Black History Month: It’s time to change our approach

Catherine Millan delivering a Black History workshop at Oasis Media CityUK

The appalling events at St Winefride’s Catholic primary school , where teachers asked children to dress as slaves as part of a Black History Month celebrations is more evidence that we need a new dynamic approach teaching Black History in our schools.

I am a passionate activist for a balanced global curriculum that is inclusive for all learners. As it currently stands, the Black Global Majority student population has continued to increase annually with an increase from 27.9% to 29.1% between 2016 and 2017, yet the national curriculum still takes a colourblind approach when dealing with global topics and issues (Demie, 2005).

There is a need for curricula that addresses the specific histories and cultures of racially marginalised students as discussed by Chikkatur (2013). Without the contributions of Black and Global Majority citizens, this country would not be the Great Britain as we know it today.  It is up to us to take a stance to introduce Black History and its contributions into our curriculum on a micro, meso and macro level. It is important to make curriculum links with Black and Global Majority inventors, scientists, civilisations etc, as various studies have found that it will help students to raise their aspirations and understand the background and development of our diverse society (King, 2016; Martell, 2014; Richardson, 2007). A good time to introduce this would be during Black History Month.

This year we used the amazing Catherine Millan from the University of Manchester, who delivered a workshop for young people and teachers about Black History Month and why it exists. Catherine has lots of experience in anti-racist work, having previously created a teaching pack with the Anthony Walker Foundation.

You can contact Catherine directly at Catherine.millan@manchester.ac.uk

Chikkatur, A., 2013. Teaching and learning African American history in a multiracial classroom. Theory & Research in Social Education41(4), pp.514-534.

Demie, F., 2005. Achievement of Black Caribbean pupils: good practice in Lambeth schools. British Educational Research Journal31(4), pp.481-508.

King, L.J., 2016. Teaching black history as a racial literacy project. Race Ethnicity and Education19(6), pp.1303-1318.

Martell, C.C., 2013. Race and histories: Examining culturally relevant teaching in the US history classroom. Theory & Research in Social Education41(1), pp.65-88.

Richardson, B. ed., 2007. Tell it like it is: How our schools fail Black children. Bookmarks.

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Out of 21,356 headteachers in England, only 277 are Black! Who are they?

BGM headteachers. Left to right: 1) Matt Jones 2) Ava Sturridge-Packer 3) David Hermitt 4) Diana Osagie 5) Jacqueline Newsome 6) Paul Mundy-Castle

Before starting my masters in educational leadership and enrolling on the BME leadership development programme, I have never heard of or met Black Headteacher/Principle. Within the school environment, black staff are typically represented in non-teaching roles such as; classroom assistance, pastoral staff, lunch time supervisors and cleaners. This was the spark to dig deeper into the rabbit hole and research into the under-representation of Black senior leaders in Education.  Click here to read report.

There are currently 21.356 headteachers  in England, however, only 277 are black. The statistics present a major concern; the ratio of Black and global majority (BGM) leaders to BGM students is disproportionate compared to that of their White counterparts.  On a positive note, Black headteachers do exist and are flying the flag and contributing towards changing the narrative of the Black and Global Majority representation in education. They are living proof that the concrete ceiling can be broken and have laid the foundation for the future generation of BGM majority teachers. Here are some of the BGM practitioners identified as senior leaders in England. Please feel free to add to the list;

 

 

  • David Hermitt
  • Diana Osagie
  • Paul Mundy-Castle
  • Patrick Cozier
  • Matt Jones
  • Jackie Ranger
  • Alison Kriel
  • Ava Sturridge-Packer
  • Marva Rollins
  • Allana Gay
  • Adewoye Yomi
  • Fumni Alder
  • Ms K Campbell

Updated List (* BGM)

 

  • Sonia Potter
  • Nadine Bernard
  • Monica Duncan
  • Tina Haracksingh
  • Sam Hoyer
  • Increase Eko
  • David Watson
  • Dr Dayo Olukoshi
  • Susan Service
  • Nav Sanghara*
  • Juliet Wright
  • Dean Gordon
  • Yana Morris
  • Christine Raymont-Hall*
  • Ken Johnson
  • Umbar Sharif*
  • Mitzi Nichol
  • Paulette Osborne
  • Nigel Oram
  • Sonia Potter
  • Qamar Riaz*
  • Nadine Bernard
  • Monica Duncan
  • Tina Haracksingh
  • Vijita Patel*
  • Nicole Haynes
  • Janet Sheriff
  • Vijita Patel*
  • Alison Moise-Dixon
  • Shelly-Ann Goulbourne
  • Leon Wilson
  • Michael Barry
  • Karen Giles
  • Joanne L Herbert
  • Devon Hanson
  • Selwyn Calvin
  • Hayden Abbott
  • David Bromfield
  • Nicholas Obie
  • Paul Quinton
  • Ken Morris
  • Tonnie Read
  • Joan Deslandes
  • Pauline Osborne
  • Catherine Ryan
  • Martha Holder
  • Paul Quinton
  • Mohsen Oja
  • Desmond Taylor
  • Patricia Young
  • Dean Gordon
  • Heather Phillips
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