The struggle to embed Black British history in the national curriculum picks up pace after not one, but three petitions successfully win audience with government Select Committees to “examine the issues in more detail”.
Earlier this year, we wrote an article on the importance of teaching ALL students a full, realistic and unbiased viewpoint of Black history and how this would have a real impact on the racial inequality narrative in the UK.
After years of unwavering campaign work, three separate petitions, which collectively have almost 400,000 signatures, are calling on the government to diversify and decolonise the curriculum.
A joint evidence session will be held by the Petitions Committee, Women and Equalities Select Committee and members of the Education Committee on 5 November following the three popular petitions on this issue.
“We petition the government to make education on topics such as these compulsory, with the ultimate aim of a far more inclusive curriculum.”
The petition Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum, which has received more than 267,000 signatures to date, is among those that have led to the Select Committee session. Providing evidence will be Prof Rhiannon Turner from Channel 4’s The School That Tried To End Racism documentary and Eleshea Williams from The Black Curriculum social enterprise.
The petition states: “Currently, it is not compulsory for primary or secondary school students to be educated on Britain’s role in colonisation, or the transatlantic slave trade.
“We petition the government to make education on topics such as these compulsory, with the ultimate aim of a far more inclusive curriculum.
“Now, more than ever, we must turn to education and history to guide us.”
Two other petitions, Add education on diversity and racism to all school curriculums and Making the UK education curriculum more inclusive of BAME history, have also received more than 114,500 signatures combined.
After years of campaigning, it appears that the calls for a more accurate school curriculum are finally on the way to being heard.
“To tackle racism and create a more equal and just society, we must understand and learn from the past.”
Caroline Nokes MP, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee said:“To tackle racism and create a more equal and just society, we must understand and learn from the past. That starts in schools, with a more inclusive history curriculum. The sheer number of signatures these petitions have received show the strength of feeling on these issues. The Woman and Equalities Committee wants to work with the Petitions Committee and colleagues on the Education Committee to explore this in more detail.”
The evidence sessions will take place virtually and will follow the below timetable:
Thu 5 November (2.30pm)
Panel 1 – Petitioners
- Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson and Nell Bevan – Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum
- Cynthia Muthoni – Add education on diversity and racism to all school curriculums
- Yacoub Yasin – Making the UK education curriculum more inclusive of BAME history
- Eleshea Williams – Media and Communications Manager, The Black Curriculum
- Dr Katherine Burn – Associate Professor of Education, Department of Education, University of Oxford and Deputy President, Historical Association
- Rosamund McNeil – Assistant General Secretary, National Education Union
- Professor Rhiannon Turner – Professor, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast (featured in The School that Tried to End Racism)
Part of the Select Committee session will be televised on Parliament TV on 5 November from 2.30pm.