Black History & the Curriculum

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”― Marcus Garvey

Heritage is a definitive part of every society and for Garvey, an understanding of that heritage is pivotal for that society to prosper. However, despite the diverse nature and multi-cultural characteristic of British society, the current curriculum does not embrace the full story of Black history in Britain. As Black History month rolls in, the recurrent question arises: Is Black History Month sufficient? Should there be more scope for black history in the national curriculum?

Stephanie Pitte, single-handedly started a recent campaign Black History in Our Schools, the Birmingham mother, petitioned for black history to be made a mandatory part of the primary school curriculum. Despite attracting over 55,000 members the petition failed to reach the required 100,000 signatures to be discussed in Parliament.

As it stands the current curriculum introduced in September 2014 does include some aspects of Black History. Individuals like Seacole and Equaino, and topics such as Britain’s transatlantic slave trade and the Windrush generation all feature in the new curriculum.

However, due to the limited scope of these topics, there is a sense that black history tends to be marginalised and distorted in the national curriculum.

History teacher Katherine Edwards emphasises in the Guardian that the curriculum fails to reflect the diversity of society, maintaining that it:

‘Obscures the long and important history of people of African and Asian origin in Britain and creates a false sense that ethnic diversity is something new.’

In light of this, it becomes important to reconsider the role of Black History Month. Does its significance increase, as it strives to cover aspects disregarded by the curriculum? Or is the month an inadequate timescale to learn or celebrate the full story of Black History in Britain?

TNT has contacted Manchester City Council in regards to the nature of Black History in the curriculum but we are still awaiting a response.
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TNT Education Joanne Muigua

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