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‘Welsh history must never be forgotten’ says Education Minister in response to Estyn criticism

10 Nov 2021 5 minute read
Education Minister Jeremy Miles speaking in the Senedd

Wales’ Education Minister has said that “Welsh history must never be forgotten” after a report said that a majority of schools in Wales are failing when it comes to Welsh and Wales’ BAME history.

Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, revealed the findings in its report, The teaching of Welsh history including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic history, identity and culture.

The report said: “In a majority of schools, pupils have little knowledge of the historical events that have shaped their local area and can name few significant Welsh people from history.”

Speaking in the Senedd, Education Minister Jeremy Miles referred to the report and said that he was “considering how we respond” to it.

“But one of the things that is clear from the Estyn report is how important it is for our young people to have a clear understanding of Welsh history, including the many and varied diverse aspects of it, including Wales’s role in the slave trade and the race riots,” he said.

“These are important parts of the history of Wales and must never be forgotten.”

Jeremy Miles was answering a question from fellow Labour MS Jayne Bryant who said that “large and significant events cannot be ignored just because they’re uncomfortable or difficult. The 1919 south Wales race riots have largely been forgotten.”

“What steps will the Minister take to ensure that significant moments in our history like the south Wales race riots are included in the teaching of black history in Wales?”

Jeremy Miles said that next year they would prompt a national conversation in the Spring on next year on the development of resources and supporting materials on Welsh history and local context.

‘Limited understanding’ 

Estyn had said in their report on Welsh history that school children were unable to make connections between individuals and events in Welsh history to British and global history and did not develop an understanding of how key historical concepts apply to local, national and international contexts.

“As a result, they do not develop a progressive and coherent conceptual understanding of the history of Wales,” the report said. “This is often because opportunities to study local and national history are not strategically planned.

“In a few schools, pupils have a thorough knowledge and understanding of local and Welsh history. In a very few schools, pupils make meaningful connections between their local area and the history of Wales, the Britain and the world. Generally, pupils’ recall of historical events and life in Wales is strongest when they have visited a museum or historical site that bring these events to life.

“In most schools, pupils have a limited knowledge and understanding of the histories of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic peoples and communities.

“Many pupils can name individuals from international history but in general have limited understanding of their historical significance. Most pupils do not know about the history of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals and communities in Wales.

“In a very few schools, where Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic history is prioritised and well planned, pupils develop an extensive understanding of history from multiple perspectives.”

Estyn undertook the survey at the request of the Welsh Government in response to two recommendations by the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee on the teaching of Welsh history, culture and heritage.

The Committee wanted Estyn to review if schools were meeting their requirements when it comes to teaching for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications.

It also wanted Estyn to review how diversity is taught in schools and consider if the history taught is representative of all of Wales’ communities and their international connections.

‘Full diversity’

In the Senedd, Conservative member Natasha asked whether there was a danger that focusing on colonialism and slavery could exacerbate racial tensions in the classroom and that not enough attention may be given to to the positive contribution made by people of colour.

“How will you ensure that the teaching of ethnic minority history in schools across Wales will have the desired effect of enhancing cohesion and understanding between communities in Wales and not widening them?” she asked.

The Education Minister said that it was an “important point”.

“I visited the Mount Stuart Primary School down the road from here to launch the Betty Campbell award for teachers who’d demonstrated particular commitment to diversity in the curriculum and in the classroom, and was talking to the young people there about their role models in their community,” he said.

“They had done a project where they were celebrating the positive contributions of black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to their community and to Wales and, indeed, to the world.

“So, I think the diversity needs to be, in fact, diverse—it needs to reflect the entire experience both in history but also in today’s modern Wales, and I’m confident that, learning the lessons that Professor Charlotte Williams and her group have helped us with, and the work that Estyn is helping us with, we will be able to provide that rich curriculum that makes sure that all our children in all parts of Wales understand the full diversity of Welsh history and modern Wales.”

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2 years ago

The answer is very simple.

  1. Ensure that teaching Welsh History, both local and national is a compulsory in new Welsh Curriculum
  2. Ensure that there are regular reviews of all schools in Wales to ensure that this is happening. Many schools ignore Welsh history.
  3. Those centres that train our future teachers need to ensure that all prospective teachers are taught modules in Welsh history.
  4. Police all schools regularly – unfortunately there are a lot of teachers who lack a basic understanding of Welsh History and BAME history.
2 years ago
Reply to  Frennifawr

Clywch Clywch. Black and ethnic minority history in Wales is Welsh history and should be taught as such. One of the great tragedies in our education of the last few decades has been the wholesale ignorance of Welsh history in most schools. Friends of mine who attended english medium schools didn’t know what the mabinogi were, couldn’t name a single Welsh king and had no concept of the brythonic culture/language. Fewer schools teach aspects of BAME history sufficiently. Without this, our future generations have no concept of who we are or where they come from. Your model is a strict… Read more »

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Frennifawr

I am a high school teacher and I agree fully with everything you have written above.

Grayham Jones
2 years ago

It’s not about black or white history it’s about welsh history in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

2 years ago
Reply to  Grayham Jones

Agree. There are problems with importing politics from the USA like BLM. For reasons of hard historical fact, it can be hard to find that many connections. I lived round the corner from Mount Stuart School. Welsh/Cardiff rugby has had some wonderful black players. Pleasure to watch Ben Thomas, not least because I met his Dad by chance and he (understandably) alerted me! But Wales doesn’t have the same demographic as London. I get it that Estyn has to nod in the right Woke direction. Overall, I think that Welsh History is probably moving in the right direction. But, as… Read more »

Grayham Jones
2 years ago

The first language in wales is welsh and welsh history should be in all schools in wales 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Malcolm rj
Malcolm rj
2 years ago

I was not taught anything about Welsh history when I was in school I’m 77 years old now when I was in the British army I thought that Welsh people were represented on the union jack and the royal standard i was shocked to think that the thousands of Welsh military personnel that died for great Britain in all war’s we have been sent to not even on the flag teachers must teach Welsh history then we might be independent one day I hope

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

“Welsh history must never be forgotten”, says the Education Minister. Well it wouldn’t be if you actually taught it!

#WelshHistoryNot 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🚫#UnionistAgenda 🇬🇧

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