THE “vile” and “racist” abuse of pupils at a primary school after they were visited by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been reported as a hate crime.

The SNP leader visited St Albert's Primary School in Glasgow at the end of September as part of Climate Week.

She had visited the school to take part in a virtual assembly led by Keep Scotland Beautiful and to hear about the children’s daily live lessons on climate-related topics.

After the event, Sturgeon retweeted a picture of herself with pupils, writing on Twitter: “Thank you @StAlbertsG41 – you were wonderful as always.”

However, a number of people responded with racist remarks about the photo.

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The First Minister posted her support for the primary school after it said it had been subjected to “the most horrific racist abuse”.

Sturgeon wrote: “Every brilliant young person and every member of staff @StAlbertsG41 is worth a million and more of the vile racists who hurl abuse at them.

“It’s my privilege to represent the wonderful, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Southside of Glasgow. I stand with them, always.”

Clare Harker, the head teacher at St Albert's Primary, has now informed police of the “sickening” online abuse and said she feels strongly that everyone must stand up to hate crime.

She said: "We were shocked and horrified by the abuse posted in response to a photo of children in one of our classes. Thankfully the pupils in the photo are unaware of the online abuse as they're so young, but all the teachers and parents are appalled.

"Thank you to everyone, including the First Minister, for their messages of support for the children and school. Their kind words have helped reaffirm our faith in human beings following the disgusting online abuse.

"People should not be afraid to report hate crime. It is very important that, when it happens, we all do so.

"In our experience, the police will treat it very seriously. We had officers in the school yesterday and it sends out a very clear message to our older pupils and our wider community that no-one should tolerate abuse – it must be reported."

SNP councillor Christina Cannon, Glasgow Council’s convener for education and equalities, said: "Glasgow is proud to be an inclusive city enriched by its diversity. Our slogan is People Make Glasgow and that means all people. 

“We do not tolerate hate crime and I encourage anyone who witnesses it or experiences it to report it either to the police or via a Third Party Reporting Centre.

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"I'm proud that Glasgow is working with a wide range of partners including inter-faith, disability groups and the Scottish Ethnic Minority Deaf Club to highlight Hate Crime Awareness Week. Sadly, the online abuse aimed at children in one of our primary schools is a sickening reminder of precisely why everyone needs to stand up to hate crime."

Police Scotland Superintendent Patrick Murphy said: “We are continuing with enquiries and providing support to St Albert's Primary School.

"Police Scotland operates a zero tolerance approach to hate crime on social media platforms and those identified will be dealt with in the appropriate manner.

"We would encourage anyone to report social media hate crime offences to Police Scotland on 101 or at a designated third party reporting centre. We are committed to providing a professional and consistent approach to victims of hate crime, treating everyone equally with due regard to their differences”