Calls grow for black history to be taught to all English school pupils

Jun 8, 2020 by

Campaigners are collecting support for open letter and want to meet education secretary

Pressure is mounting on the government to review the national curriculum and make the teaching of black history mandatory for all pupils in schools in England.

Campaigners are collecting signatures for an open letter to be sent this week to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, calling on him to make the teaching of black history compulsory in primary and secondary school and across a range of different subject areas.

The campaign, led by a group called the Black Curriculum, has attracted widespread support in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of George Floyd in the US, and in light of the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black and minority ethnic people.

Organisers have requested a face-to-face meeting with Williamson and want a response by Windrush Day on 22 June.

The letter states: “Thousands of us, the British voting public, are grief-stricken and concerned about the existing status quo in the UK, which disregards the lives and contributions of black British people.”

It says young people studying the national curriculum in schools in England are not given a full or accurate version of British history. “Despite numerous calls over the years to reform the national curriculum to incorporate black histories, these requests have been denied,” it says.

“Learning black history should not be a choice but should be mandatory. Our curriculum should not be reinforcing the message that a sizeable part of the British population are not valued.”

Campaigners want black history to be included in the national curriculum from key stage 1 in primary through to key stage 4 when students take their GCSEs, and across subjects including history, citizenship, English and PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education).

Lavinya Stennett, who founded the Black Curriculum, said: “There’s an appetite for change. People want to see the events of the past weeks lead to lasting change. It’s something we’ve known is important for a long time. Finally people are listening.”

Black history, including topics such as migration, belonging and empire, can be taught as part of the history and English curriculum in secondary schools, but whether pupils get to study it depends on the exam board and modules chosen by schools.

Another challenge is that academies, which are not controlled by local authorities, have greater freedoms and are not required to follow the national curriculum, meaning many children may miss out on opportunities to study black history.

Source: Calls grow for black history to be taught to all English school pupils | Education | The Guardian

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