The National Curriculum is framed in an Anglo centric perspective, where victors and ‘pioneers’ have written the history and defined the narrative in all subjects. Consequently, this has resulted in the ‘racial erasure’, such as the whitewashing of atrocity and the elimination of non-white contributors within the curriculum. It is essential for schools to modernise the curriculum to reflect the global population of the school, this will eventually develop an inclusive ethos of learners understanding a range of different cultures in preparation of becoming Global Citizens.
Anti-Racist Curriculum Audit – History
We aim to implement an anti-racist and anti-oppressive approach by reviewing and implementing changes in our curriculum, through the lens of our Black and Global Majority student population. We were inspired by the NEU anti-racist framework https://neu.org.uk/media/11236/view which was used to ensure that the curriculum has broad and balanced representation.
For example, this Scheme of Learning developed by the History curriculum leader @msmarshhistory1 to ensure that there is;
Increasing representation of events and individuals who are the ‘Global Majority
Move away from solely focusing on the history of white, Western Europeans with political power
Representation is not merely one of ‘historical oppression’ but diverse in its specific historic enquiry, highlighting role models
The work of social historians is at the forefront of more historical inquiries
The intersection between different characteristics e.g. class is recognised whilst acknowledging there is no hierarchy of oppression
Recognition that changing the content of the curriculum is not enough, staff must be racially literate in order to effectively deliver this curriculum in an anti-racist way.
Following the feedback from our staff anti-racism training, we have produced a ‘racism interrupters’ help script laminated into cards to fit into staff lanyards along with a ‘restorative conversations’ help script. The aim is to encourage and develop the confidence of staff to address any concerns relating to racism, in particular, suspected micro-aggressions within the classroom. Download an editable version below.
Local coverage in Manchester Evening News, discussing the Anti-Racist education that we have implemented at our school and Oasis Community Learning. The aim is still to make an educational change and inspire schools to take the same approach. There is still a long way to go.
I am delighted to announce that I have been shortlisted for the 100 inspiring Teachers campaign for The Guardian and @GuardianLabsUK partnering with the Get into Teaching (department of education). The article is now published, focused on positive Black representation in education and the Anti-Racist approach implemented within Oasis Community Learning, used to tackle institutionalised racism in and beyond our schools. See the full article below;
Following the Oasis Community Learning, Break The Cycle conferences earlier this year (see Session 1 and Session 2), saw the launch of an aspirational plan with the aim of implementing an anti-racist approach at Oasis Academy Media City, focusing on decolonising the structures in education through; Curriculum Reviews, Staff Training and CPD, Student Education, Community, and Leadership and Management.
It has been a challenging start to the school year, due to Covid-19 and limited-time capacity to facilitate the project, where the majority of the work was completed outside of the school hours. Despite this, I’m proud to report that significant milestones have been achieved in the first term;
Curriculum Review and Adaptation
Review curriculum areas to ensure they have contributions from Black and Global Majority contributors.
Audit the cultural diversity of each Programme Of Study (POS)– each POS representative of different cultures across the five years of study.
Audit the teaching and learning through an anti-racist leans using the NEU anti-racist framework
Review and adapt the PSHE curriculum based on the feedback from students
Review the subject areas to ensure that they have career paths that are inclusive for BGM students.
List of industry professionals , coaches and mentors that could be used for interventions through the race trust (launch term 2)
Introduction to Black and Global History, in conjunction with the University of Manchester and the Heritage fund. UOM will find local trailblazers for core subjects (Maths, English and Science) with the aim of including these within the lessons. https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/hub/107833/news?page=9
Anti-Racist training in conjunction with local Grass root organisations that focuses on Anti-Racism to provide a framework for PSHE lessons
Opportunity to discuss issues relating to race, politics, culture, and identity with teaching staff chairing the conversations, addressing any misconceptions
Dropdown days consisting of Anti-Racist workshops timetabled throughout the academic year
Ensure that all cultural events are included in the calendar- for example refugee week, Diwali, Eid, Chinese New Year, Wind rush day etc. Robust plan for Black History Month. Use the OCL equality and diversity calendar as a framework for upcoming events.
Visual and communication audit report. All areas of communication that is associated to OAMCUK (Website, School Newsletters, Photos around the academy, classrooms)
Targeted inventions for vulnerable BGM students / BGM NEET / BGM High prior attainers with mentors from BGM community, from a wide range of sectors. EG entrepreneurs from the business sector to create a ‘school to industry pipeline.’
Expand the Black and Global History trail to all subjects within the curriculum
Anti-Racist training in conjunction with local Grass root organisations that focuses on Anti-Racism resources to provide a framework for PSHE lessons. Opportunity to discuss issues relating to race, politics, culture, and identity with teaching staff chairing the conversations, addressing any misconceptions
Staff Training and CPD
Staff to become diversity champions, becoming experienced in an anti-racist and anti-oppressive pedagogy
Deliver a session on being diversity champions as staff
Anti-Racist Working party group (meeting termly)
Anti-racist training (Booked in for half term 2)
Anti-racist CPD structured in half term from specialist providers
Unconscious and implicit bias training
Targeted interventions for Black and Global Majority students
Review the area of concern (e.g. Careers / subject area) that needs intervention.
Targeted tutorials with the University of Manchester and Aim Higher for Black students interested in Optometry, Dentistry, and Physics.
Student ambassadors. Focused on an anti-racist approach and community cohesion
Student voice (Half Termly Termly) See survey https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=zz3XjXy17EC3-HVbUS2fe_xHa7NdGvVLrMTZ2vc5tthUOVFERktYUEkxMlhXNkhVRjVNRDROUkFDOS4u
Regular meetings with students that have been involved in racist attacks on other students. Far-right extremism/anti-racism interventions
Anti-Racist lessons, Followed up by targeted Interventions focused on the impact of Hate Crime
Anti-racist ambassador training
Leadership and Management
Term 1 Behavior Policy review: Critically Review existing school policy through the lens of Black and Global Majority Learners
Racist incidents 3 days in Internal exclusion that could lead to a Fixed Term Exclusion
Return to school meeting with parents and SLT
The incident is referred to the police and local authorities
Repeat offenders will be Fixed Term Excluded
Anti-racist course 6-week course to be completed
Amended Anti-Racist section in the home school agreement for parents and staff to sign
Review existing performance management content and include a target aligned with becoming an anti-racist school
Audit of racial indents sanctions and restorative interventions
Name Blind recruitment process when appointing new staff
Positive discrimination focused on the recruitment of Good/ outstanding BGM practitioners
BGM representation on the OCL equivalent of the Board of governors
Clear recruitment to leadership progression for BGM teachers
Improve local community links
Weekly meetings with the community strategy response team
Collaborations with local anti-racist organizations
Weekly meetings with the community strategy response team (Neighbourhood development officers, Salford Youth Service, Local Agencies focused on online safety, Crime and Anti-Social Behaviour updates from the local PCSO’s)
Increased involvement with community partners, utilising the Oasis Hub
There is a general assumption that merely encouraging people to mix in an
urban context will result in positive interaction and community cohesion (Hemming,
2011:65). This certainly does not work in a school context. Moreover, there are
systemic and institutionalised barriers that prevent inclusion and
multicultural community cohesion in schools in England. This section will
identify significant barriers that impact community cohesion and integration
within multicultural and disadvantaged, urban secondary schools in England.
Policy and Government
In 2013, the government
institutionalised policies relating to community cohesion, which became a
statutory duty for schools in England Jones (2013). However, there was a lack of policy framework available for long
term community cohesion strategies (Engel, 2013). This gave schools the autonomy to set their own priorities and
strategies relating to community cohesion (Engel, 2013). This has led to
community cohesion policies being interpreted in different ways, depending on
the school context and in some cases, even saw an increase in social
segregation due to the interpretation of the broad guidelines. Some examples of
poor interpretation of community cohesion policies that have a negative impact
on learners are; Community cohesion policies being used as a platform for
social advantage, where some ethnically diverse schools who sought to attract
white middle class parents for a multicultural ‘experience’, without doing anything
to combat social inequality actually contributed towards social segregation
within their schools (Kirkham, 2016); schools failing to manage issues of
diversity, identity and social cohesion (Rhamie, 2012); and ineffective
induction and integration of migrants into the school population (Lumby, 2016).
On a macro level, policies that relate to community cohesion need to be clearly distinguished so the data is comparable and measured for their success (Runnymede, 2018). Community cohesion policies being driven by a minimalist interpretation of requirements (Wilkins, 2014) have not led to any changes in the functioning and daily realities of the school (Gillborn, 2008). This resulted in a legacy of community cohesion policies being a low priority on a micro level within the school. The success of community cohesion practices is now reliant on individual schools’ equality, diversity and inclusion policies and how these are implemented by the practitioners within the school (Engel, 2013).
Ofsted is a neutral professional body
used to regulate care and education for young people (Mogra, 2016). In 2008, it
began to inspect schools’ contribution towards community cohesion. The
assessment criterion focusing on community cohesion was integrated into OFSTED
school inspections. This only lasted until 2010, as it was decided by
parliament that they will no longer inspect community cohesion (Engel, 2013).
Instead, there is now a focus on how equality and diversity is implemented within
The term ‘Community Cohesion’ has
been removed in the latest Ofsted school inspection handbook, although
practitioners still have the duty to promote community cohesion within their
schools. The focus is now on equality and diversity for those with protected
characteristics within the school and the wider community.
Wilkins’ (2014) study argues how
Ofsted have failed to use performative accountability layers to address race
equality issues. Recommendations were suggested for Ofsted to define
inspections guidelines, restore their impartiality within educational matters
(Mogra, 2016) and to revise the Ofsted guidance for inspection relating to
equality and diversity (Wilkins, 2014) to cater more towards multicultural communities
The National Curriculum (NC) is a
framework consisting of a range of subjects and assessment criteria used in
primary and secondary schools to enable continuity (DfE,2018). It was
introduced during the conservative administration, under Thatcher’s government.
It is argued that schools are still influenced by neo-liberal discourse which
has a negative impact on educational structures (Saltman, 2014). Similarly,
Peters (2015: 643) identified that the curriculum
is racialised as white was fundamental to the development of capitalism. Neoliberal approaches to education have
resulted in the reduction of a diverse curriculum (Saltman, 2014). This has
resulted in a restrictive assessment and framework that does not meet the needs
of all learners (Lumby, 2016)
There is currently a lack of
anti-racist education – a program designed to eliminate the clarification of
people based on skin colour (Peters, 2015) and culturally inclusive diet within
the national learning activities within the NC, which is fundamental to
combatting racist attitudes, consequently having a negative impact on Community
The NC is framed in an anglocentric perspective where ‘victors’ have written the history and defined the narrative (Richardson, 2007). Text books used to support topics within the curriculum are primarily written by white publishing companies such as NCS Pearson and McGraw Hill Education, who have been accused of normalising a white ethnocentric narrative (Saltman, 2014; Peters, 2015; Gillborn, 2008).
For example, McGraw Hill Education have been recently accused of downplaying slavery by reinventing the narrative that African Slaves were ‘agricultural workers’, implying that they were migrants benefiting from the economy (Dart, 2015). This is an example of the ‘racial erasure’ described by Bain (2018:14) which includes the erasure of white racism within the curriculum by the elimination of non-white contributors and whitewashing atrocity.
Over 61% of secondary schools in
England have become acadamised (Local Government Association, 2017), therefore
they do not have to follow the NC. This gives Academies the potential to
modernise the curriculum to reflect the global population of the school. This
will eventually develop an inclusive ethos of learners understanding a range of
different cultures that, in theory, will increase positive relations and
community cohesion within the school. With a range of different cultural
backgrounds and nationalities in England, it is essential for the curriculum to
reflect global society and to relate to the increasing global audience.
The NC is content driven and is
therefore harder to accommodate those from a BAME background (Lumby,2016).
However, there have been changes in the NC as an attempt to reflect the changes
in society. These changes are described as ‘tinkering’
by Hayden (2013) – used as ‘bolt-ons’ to the curriculum such as; citizenship
(Pike, 2007); British Values agenda (Rhamie, 2012); and the controversial
Prevent strategy (Alam, 2013) – all designed for BAME learners to assimilate to
British ideals, rather than a dynamic reform to cater for the global community.
Hayden’s (2013), comprehensive review
on the international school’s curriculum concluded that International schools
could be used as a bench mark for a curriculum reform to reflect society and
ensuring Global contributors are present in each subject. This is a long-term
solution that needs to be made on a macro level for a dynamic and inclusive
global curriculum to foster genuine positive community cohesion within the
school environment. On a Micro level, Schools could integrate multiple
perspectives to topics within the NC to make it more inclusive for BAME
learners and examine the curriculum to ensure that whiteness is not the norm (by) which everything is measured (Lumby,
There are various challenges
associated with staffing that affect community cohesion within schools. When a
school has predominantly white staff and white students, it tends to take
longer for them to embed equality and diversity into all aspects of the school (Richardson,
2007); 20% of teachers employed in the most disadvantaged schools leave each
year, as opposed to 15% of teachers within the least disadvantaged schools
(Allen, 2018). Consequently, this leads to high staff turnover that impacts student
attainment and any progress made towards cultural inclusion.
BGM teachers are vastly
underrepresented as practitioners in all levels of education in the UK. Within
a secondary school context, latest published Figures have revealed that only
6.9% are in a leadership position and 13.5% in teaching roles (DfE, 2016),
including teaching and leadership positions (Lumby, 2016). Nationally, 30.3% of
pupils are from a minority ethnic background (DfE, 2017). Correspondingly,
there is a discrepancy between a large amount of BAME learners and a small
amount of BAME teachers which is a concern, as BAME learners need BAME role
models to break through the ‘concrete ceiling’ and challenge cultural negative
stereotypes of BAME staff being in subordinate roles within schools (Lumby,
2007). This is due to poor retention rates and the lack of BAME teachers
joining the profession (Wilkins, 2014).
On the contrary, from a macro
perspective it may be perceived as problematic if the ratios of BAME staff did reflect
BAME students, due to the threat of minorities representing a challenge to majority
traditional values within a Neoliberal framework that has been designed to
sustain inequality (Gillborn, 2008; Mogra, 2016).
New migrants are often sent to community housing and developing migrant hotspots that are predominantly located within disadvantaged, working-class communities (Finney, 2009). During 2017 there was an increased level of migration into Europe and a growth in BAME learners who now equate to 32.1% of pupils in Primary schools and 29.1% in secondary schools in England (DfE, 2017). This has had a direct impact on school choice and has increased the influence of ‘white flight’, a term used by Hemming (2011) where white parents opt out of schools that have a high population of migrant children and children with EAL (Lumby, 2016).
This has resulted in schools that
have a large cohort of EAL students and migrants being viewed as undesirable,
whilst mono-ethnic schools with a high white population have become
oversubscribed as discussed by Lumby (2016). In some cases, schools have the
opportunity to select the highest attainers, further discriminating against
migrants and this has a clear negative impact on community cohesion (Lumby,
However, some schools are now
promoting multiculturalism as ‘commodity
or beneficial resource’ (Kirkham, 2016: 385). Kirkham (2016) investigates
the multiculturalism trend and researches a school, that actively seeks to
track white middle-class parents who want a diverse multicultural education to
gain a reality of the future of living as global citizens.
Class and race are intersecting
characteristics that influence community cohesion. In the previous section, we
discussed how and when the BAME school population increases, the white
middle-class population decreases (Keddie, 2014). Therefore, migrant learners
are often segregated with children from disadvantaged backgrounds (Runnymede,
2018; Lumby, 2016).
Social economic background is another
barrier that impacts positive relationships and cohesion in areas that have
long term unemployment and have a high risk of economic marginalisation and
social exclusion (Flint, 2008).
Mcghee (2006) argues that community
cohesion strategies outlined by government focus on the improvement of race
inequality and integration of new migrants, which has taken precedence over,
and excludes, existing white disadvantaged host
communities in England. Subsequently, causing hostility that negatively
impacts community cohesion. As a result, schools are at risk of concentrating
solely on ethnic diversity and excluding class diversity (Kirkham, 2016), this
is where tensions between schools and beliefs of parents could clash causing
To improve this injustice, Lumby
(2016:61) suggests how schools can start
to analyse the degree to which segregation by socioeconomic class and other
intersecting characteristics are present in the school. This would be a
suitable start to devise a long-term solution for positive community cohesion.
2.5 Summary and Emerging Issues
To conclude this section, the study of literature relating to institutionalised barriers relating to community cohesion has revealed that:
the political system in England maintains the power and resources that has a
rhetoric of ‘white ignorance’ that
contributes to white benefit and non-white disadvantage (Bain, 2018:10),
therefore it was not designed to support multicultural England.
initiatives focused on community cohesion and inclusion have ultimately led to
intersecting systematic inequalities that has compromised policies designed to
integrate multicultural communities.
designed to manage Multicultural communities within schools have been subject
to interpretation of the policies that have a colour-blind undertone (Lumby,
2008), concealed under the veneer of government requirements.
need to create more opportunities that aid community cohesion and positive
relationships between different cultural groups and need to further investigate
equality, diversity and social justice within secondary education.
to community cohesion within the school include lack of framework from the
government, (Runnymede, 2018; Gillborn, 2008 the removal of community cohesion
in the Ofsted assessment framework (Mogra, 2016; Wilkins, 2014); anglocentric
colour-blind curriculum within schools (Lumby, 2016), under-representation of
BAME staff (Richardson, 2007) , issues relating to residential segregation
within inner city areas (Kirkham, 2016) and social economic marginalisation
cultural approach within schools, by focusing on equality and diversity that
will result in positive community cohesion, so all community groups are
supported within schools (Lumby, 2016).
The British Educational System has had a legacy of systematically failing black children (Richardson, 2007; Gillborn, 2008). This is my personal account of how institutionalised racism has impacted my family throughout the generations.
My Grandparents arrived in the UK in the 1950s, where they were welcomed with racism, rejection, and persecution was the narrative presented to Colonial migrants as discussed by (Eddo-Lodge, 2017:25). Subsequently, Colonial Migrants were ignored and excluded from parts of society, this was a strategy used to preserve White British purity (Myers, 2015:17 as during that time it was of national interest to preserve the’ British race’ due to the ‘dwindling birth-rate’ post Second World War (Paul, 1997:2).
My father is a first-generation, Black British Caribbean. He attended school during the late ’60s early ’70s. During this era, it was commonplace that those who were from African Caribbean descent were systematically discriminated against and failed by the British Educational system (Richardson, 2007:68; Gillborn, 2008:73). Many children of African Caribbean heritage were labeled ‘educationally subnormal’, hence excluded from mainstream schools (Richardson, 2007:68).
My grandmother was the head cook at the primary school where my father attended. On one occasion she walked passed a classroom where the teacher was reading the book ‘10 Little Ni**er Boys’ to a group of predominantly Black Caribbean students. My grandmother campaigned and was successful in the removal of these books, not only from that school but all schools and from Manchester City Library.
Second Generation Black British (1990s – 2000s)
Being Black and British, I have had a first-hand account of attending a traditionally white, mono-ethnic inner-city secondary school as a pupil during the multiculturalism era of New Labour and Blair’s government. During this time, there was an absence of understanding of racism and race equality in policy literature, as discussed by Gillborn (2008). Multicultural integration during 1996 – 2001 was a low priority within the school, despite the Black and Asian cohort increasing every year.
I attended Lostock Community High School which was known as a ‘dumping school’, where pupils excluded from neighbouring school would be taken on the school roll. The exclusion figures at that time were significantly higher than the national average with Black children being punished twice as much as their white counterparts; with the Black Caribbean group being the most punished (Williams 2004). This contributed towards a toxic racialized environment where pupils did not integrate, misconceptions about various cultures were not challenged and pupils from Black Global Majority (BGM) backgrounds were marginalised. This led to racial tension between the host community and Black students with little to no intervention from the school and no polices designed to safeguard BGM students. The governors made the decision to keep these figures confidential. Ultimately, this led to the suspension of head Teacher in 2004 along with the Governing body for 15 years of neglect by educational bosses (Manchester Evening News, 2007).
I was fortunate to attend a Pan African Saturday school, to unpick the trauma experienced through mainstream education. Here, I was taught by qualified Black teachers that volunteered their time on a Saturday morning. This was integral to reinforce positive self-image, self-confidence and to help bridge the attainment gap that was absent in my formal schooling This taught me from an early age that it is essential to have positive Black representation in schools, alongside a curriculum that reflects global society and to relate to the increasing global audience.
Third generation Black British (2019 – )
My eldest daughter attends a church school, renowned for its outstanding attainment results. The school is known for its ‘Christian ethos – one which has at its heart the individual made in the image of God. As such all are valued equally’. Subsequently, the school adopted a colour-blind approach that underplays the significance of institutionalised racism within its curriculum, leadership, and Management. Since the death of George Floyd (RIP), I have consulted with the school, challenging the lack of cultural inclusion and Black representation in the curriculum. As a direct response, the school has decided to source more Black books by Black authors and will be discussing how to implement inclusive strategies with the senior leadership team.
Breaking the Cycle
We all have a role to play in breaking the cycle of institutionalised racism in education and to adopt an anti-racist, cultural approach to the curriculum. It is essential to have a whole-school approach to have a significant impact on changing the discourse within schools and a range of other professional practices. (Paul, 1997: 190). This will create equal opportunities for the generation of young learners going through the English educational system. This will contribute towards leading educational change and breaking the traditional cycle of a colour-blind outlook through multi-cultural representation.
If you are familiar with this blog, I have been campaigning and spreading awareness towards the decolonisation of the curriculum since I started teaching. I have been in a unique position to lead educational change within my educational setting.
We aim to introduce an Anti-Racist, culturally inclusive diet that integrates multiple perspectives, to topics within the National Curriculum to make it more inclusive for BGM learners and to ensure that whiteness is not the norm by which everything is measured, driving the narrative of decolonising the structures in education, focusing on Curriculum Reviews and Adaptation, Staff Training and CPD, Student Education and Leadership and Management.
Throughout this journey, it has reinforced the importance of integrity and the pursuit of social justice as well as equality and diversity within education despite institutional racism and neoliberal constraints.
As a proud Black teacher, researcher and father, I believe that an Anti-racist cultural approach in our schools will eventually lead educational change within society and foster a mindset of equality, and respect of cultural differences and similarities, creating a new generation of Black and Global Majority leaders.
Eddo- Lodge, Reni (2017). Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race. London: Bloomsbury. 1 – 124
Gillborn, D. (2008) Racism and Education. London: Routledge.
Manchester Evening News. (2007). sacked school governor im a scapegoat. Available: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/sacked-school-governor-im-a-scapegoat-1186050. Last accessed 9th Apr 2020.
Myers, K. (2016). Struggles for a past: Irish and Afro-Caribbean histories in England, 1951-2000. Manchester University Press.
Richardson, B. ed. (2007). Tell it like it is: How our schools fail Black children. Bookmarks.
Paul, K. (1997). Whitewashing Britain: race and citizenship in the postwar era. Cornell University Press.
Williams, J., 2004. Tilting at Windmills…: Memoirs of a School Governor; a Cautionary Tale of Corporate Bullying.