Sadiq Khan calls for more black history teaching in schools

Sadiq Khan has called on the Government to make ethnic minority authors, artists and musicians a compulsory part of the national curriculum.

Teaching must become more diverse so that pupils understand the “historic and institutional reasons” for racial inequality in Britain, he said.

It comes at the start of Black History Month, a celebration of the contribution black communities have made for generations in the UK.

In line with this focus, the Mayor has launched a new drive to improve black history teaching in London schools.

While Mr Khan does not set the curriculum, he produces free lesson plans for art, English, geography, history, music and science subjects, used by almost 1,000 schools in the capital.

Now City Hall will work with social enterprise The Black Curriculum to make sure its resources reflect the story of black Londoners.

But on Thursday (October 1) the Mayor urged Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to go further, asking him in a letter to rethink diversity in the national curriculum.

Mr Khan believes exam boards should be made to include authors, artists and musicians from a range of ethnicities on their syllabuses.

“Our pupils come from diverse backgrounds yet are too often presented with a curriculum offering one-dimensional perspectives on Black History,” the Mayor said.

“The coronavirus pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have thrown structural injustice and persistent inequality into stark relief, and affirmed the need for meaningful action across all of our society.”

Labour London Assembly member Jennette Arnold, who chairs the Assembly education panel, said there is a “deficit in the curriculum” for black pupils.

She recalled her own mother searching out positive black role models for her as a child, because of the lack of diversity in school teaching.

“It’s not about rewriting history, it’s about putting back into our consciousness the contribution of those who have been excluded,” Ms Arnold said.

“If you’re a child from black, Asian or minority ethnic heritage and that story isn’t there, it’s as if to say you’ve just arrived in Britain.

“If you just hear the negative stories, or just see the image of the enslaved African, you’re missing out most of African history.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said schools play a “crucial role” in helping youngsters understand the world around them.

“The knowledge-rich curriculum in our schools already offers pupils the opportunity to learn about significant figures from black and ethnic minority backgrounds and the contributions they have made to the country’s history, as well as helping them learn about our shared history with countries from across the world,” they said.

Harrow Times | Local News