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.
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
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.