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Change Must Begin With the National Curriculum

The Black Curriculum is committed to teaching Black history to improve social cohesion between young people in the UK.

Educational group, The Black Curriculum, is pushing for the British school syllabus to be changed. Founded in 2019, it advocates for black history to be taught in schools across the UK.

Social enterprise, The Black Curriculum, seeks to redress the predominantly Eurocentric perspective of the UK’s national curriculum. It advocates a syllabus that includes 12 topics from politics to art history to migration studies. As such, covering a wide variety of subjects including the sound-system culture, the “sus” laws, the Windrush scandal, gentrification and deportation.

“Change can only begin to happen when society understands the facts of colonialism and how it still underpins current economic and legal structures, as well as beliefs and patterns of behaviour present in our society.” Lavinia Stennett 

The 1999 Macpherson report, released in response to the racially motivated murder of black British teenager Stephen Lawrence, advised for a national curriculum to reflect the diverse population. It found that the current national curriculum excludes Black histories throughout, and omits the vast contributions Black people have made to the UK.

The effects of a one-sided national curriculum can be dangerous. For example, contributing to nationalist and distorted views of society. Further, preventing the knowledge of a full and accurate version of British history. As pupils, we are brought up to learn about the strength and heroism of this country. We are not, however, taught about the suffering of other countries and people from the UK’s colonialism and empire. As Lavinia Stennett, founder and director of The Black Curriculum, noted,

“We have seen the effects of this omission, which pose a number of serious and dangerous political consequences. It has seen the arbitrary deportation of UK nationals, and not least the preservation of racism in British society.”

The need for change is stark in light of the recent horrific events. The brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have highlighted the deeply unjust and racial aspect of American society. Alongside this, Covid-19 has exposed the stark socio-economic inequalities disproportionately impacting Black communities. Both have culminated in the largest civil protests across the US since the 1960s. It seems the momentum for real change is now, and not just in the US.

Racial inequality is grave and systemic within the UK. Between April 2018 and March 2019, for every 1,000 White people there were 4 stop and searches. This was in comparison with 38 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people. The recent Windrush scandal involving around 50,000 long-term UK residents further highlighted the mistreatment of Black citizens. We must therefore recognise the need to be actively anti-racist and promote change within the UK. 

Wondering how you can contribute to change? The Black Curriculum encourages those who support their cause to demand action by sending their email template to Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education. Their email advocates a need for “Black histories on the national curriculum from KS1 – KS4”. Further, “to include Black British histories across different subject areas, including History, Citizenship, English and PSHE.”

A more accurate and better education for children is arguably the most effective tool for constructing an anti-racist society. It can help to bring equity, unity and understanding to future generations. As Frederick Douglass once said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”.

To further support, please donate where possible and share.

Mia Haffety 

Feature image courtesy of Ella via Flickr.

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