Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi recalls being bullied at school

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi

Nadhim Zahawi recalled being racially assaulted and thrown headlong into a pond by bullies during his school days.

The Education Secretary has referred to his experiences after describing the case of 11-year-old Raheem Bailey as ‘sickening’.

Shantal Bailey said her son Raheem lost his finger while ‘running away from bullies at school‘, explaining he caught it climbing over a fence – and then had to have it amputated.

Raheem has faced ‘racial and physical abuse’ as well as bullying because of his size since he started secondary school at Abertillery Learning Community in South Wales in September, according to his mother .

Mr Zahawi, whose family fled Iraq for the UK as a child, told Sophy Ridge on Sky News on Sunday: “It is sickening, we always have to do more.

“I was bullied when I came to these shores.

“I didn’t speak English and it was difficult, I remember my first experience… being chased around the park as some sort of entertainment for the older boys and then throwing myself in the pond or dipping my head in the pond, horrible enough for a child who has just arrived on these shores.

Asked if there was a racist element to the bullying, Mr Zahawi replied: “I don’t know, it was a long time ago but I’ve certainly been the target of other insults racists, words, whatever – I was called a ‘Paki’ at school, I had to explain that they mean I’m from Pakistan, I’m not from Pakistan, I’m actually from Pakistan. a place called Iraq and I’m of Kurdish origin, it’s called Kurdistan.

“It is a horrible thing and I am determined to eradicate it, as I am determined to eradicate anti-Semitism in our schools or in our universities. There is no place for racism anywhere in our society, let alone in education.

Raheem’s case prompted the Welsh Government to issue a statement, saying: ‘We condemn bullying and racial harassment in all its forms and expect allegations and incidents of bullying and racism to thoroughly investigated by the schools with appropriate action taken to resolve the issue and prevent further cases. to occur.

“We understand that this incident is being investigated by the school and local authorities, and that Gwent Police are involved and are investigating.”

A spokeswoman for Abertillery Learning Community told Wales Online: ‘We are currently working closely with Gwent Police and local authorities to establish full details of the incident.

“The well-being and safety of our students and staff remains of paramount importance.”

More than £79,000 has been donated to Raheem via a GoFundMe page his mum set up to raise money for a prosthetic finger and money to help him recover.


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