England’s largest education union ‘to learn from’ inclusion of black perspectives and history on Welsh curriculum
England’s largest education union has said that they will seek to learn from the way black perspectives and history have been included in Wales’ new curriculum.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said that the union would seek to learn from a review in Wales on diversifying the curriculum.
Her comments came after the NEU voted to pass a motion on creating a more inclusive and diverse curriculum for black pupils in English schools.
She said that the conference had called for a campaign to review the national curriculum to ensure that “culturally inclusive classrooms” were embraced.
“In particular, members called for the inclusion of black perspectives, history, achievements and contributions in the whole curriculum and not just some aspects of the history curriculum,” she said.
“Such a review may be hindered by this [UK] Government’s reticence with regard to critical debate about topics such as imperialism and empire, racism and climate change, as exemplified by recent constraining and stifling Government guidance on political impartiality.
“The curriculum must look to the future, but to do this it must speak accurately about the past in relation to black British history and about Britain’s colonial past.”
In October the Welsh Government announced that Wales was to become the first UK nation to make the teaching of Black, Asian and minority ethnic histories and experiences mandatory in the school curriculum.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said that it was “vitally important that our education system equips our young people to understand and respect their own and each other’s histories, cultures and traditions”.
“Today’s announcement will help enrich the new curriculum, and therefore teaching in Wales, for years to come,” he said.
At the National Education Union’s annual conference in Bournemouth today, members voted for a curriculum review in England on diversity, and to lobby the UK Government to make diverse teaching materials mandatory in schools.
NEU member Samuel Makinde said: “It’s now 2022, and we need to change. The reason why we need to change is because the world has changed, the world is moving on.
“We need to start to include things that will make other people to really feel part of this culture. By not including it we are excluding them, and by excluding them from our classroom we are not being authentic.”
The union said an electronic portal should be funded to publicise how schools were working to make their curriculums more reflective of black and minority ethnic experiences.
Members voted to work with exam boards so more inclusive resources were developed and used within schools.
The conference also passed an amendment that the UK Government’s recent guidance on political impartiality in schools was an attempt to “suppress critical debate about topics such as imperialism and empire, climate change and racism”.
Members voted to work with a “broad range” of organisations to form a response and issue union guidance on the teaching of social justice in schools.
One member, Michael Holland, said Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi had written that “at school, children are often first exposed to important political issues”.
“What an inaccurate and patronising view of our children,” he said. “Our children already have ideas on all sorts of issues.”
He added that at his Lambeth primary school, pupils had, of their “own volition”, written BLM (Black Lives Matter) “because that’s what they saw on the news and that’s what they were interested in”.
“Children want to talk about these issues, so we need to facilitate that inquiry,” he said.
Another NEU member, Ellie Sharp, said: “We are meant to give the other viewpoint, the opposing voice, even when it comes to racism.
“The latest guidance states that topics related to empire and imperialism should be taught in a balanced manner.
“How can we teach the oppression and exploitation of cultures and peoples in a balanced manner, unless you are the oppressor, seeking to justify his actions? Can we tell the history of Windrush in a balanced manner?”
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