Children as young as four have been reported as perpetrators of racist abuse and inappropriate comments.

Almost 5,000 incidents have been reported across Essex from 2003 to 2013.

Across the county, teachers were victims on 381 occasions during the ten-year period.

Retired headteacher David Iles, who led Richard de Clare Primary School in Halstead for 27 years, said: “It is very dangerous to just assume they are young and don’t know what they are doing, because that is complacent.

“A great deal of it is something said in the heat of the moment in the playground - you always put a stop to it because it is bullying.

“It is the same as all bullying incidents - we have to make it clear it is upsetting and we don’t upset each other.

“In my experience, once you do that and point out the error, it doesn’t happen with that particular child again."

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