Teaching union urges schools to ‘decolonise the classroom’

The contribution of black people to British history and culture should be taught in all subjects at school, a teaching union’s conference has been told.

The NASUWT’s annual conference heard that the national curriculum is ‘lacking’ and some teachers have taken it into their own hands to ‘decolonise their classrooms’.

A motion passed at the conference said education should equip all children to understand and respect a variety of histories, cultures and traditions.

It noted that the national curriculum should ‘reflect, respect and value the contributions of all communities’ that have contributed to building the UK.

Calls to decolonise the curriculum and boost diversity in schools, colleges and universities have gained momentum over the past year following protests in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

The NASUWT’s annual conference heard that the national curriculum is ‘lacking’ and some teachers have taken it into their own hands to ‘decolonise their classrooms’

Michelle Codrington-Rogers, former president of the NASUWT, acknowledged there was ‘some discomfort’ with the topic among teachers.

But she said: ‘We have a responsibility to be inclusive for all of our students and this starts with us ensuring that there is black visibility for our children and young people. Not just black children, but all children.

‘It is crucial to recognise that black history is all of our history.’

Ms Codrington-Rogers said: ‘Many schools and our colleagues focus on and centralise the pain and suffering of communities, such as slavery and partition, and that does have long-lasting effects on the students who are taught their heritage is only based in pain.’

She told the conference: ‘The national curriculum is lacking and the fact that our exam boards don’t value and reward the diversity of content is an issue.’

She said Government curriculum reviews centring on the classics ‘over and over again above diverse voices, for example in the English curriculum, speaks volumes’.

Ms Codrington-Rogers, a citizenship teacher from Oxford, said: ‘All subjects need to ensure that there is inclusivity in their teaching.

‘That there is black visibility in design tech and modern foreign languages, science and English, music and geography, art and maths, computer science and citizenship, food technology and drama.

Michelle Codrington-Rogers, former president of the NASUWT, acknowledged there was 'some discomfort' with the topic among teachers

Michelle Codrington-Rogers, former president of the NASUWT, acknowledged there was ‘some discomfort’ with the topic among teachers

‘All subjects have a responsibility to change the narrative that black people have only got a history of enslavement and colonisation.

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