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Lib Dems lead cross party push for more diverse curriculum

Layla Moran

The @LibDems have secured cross party support for a bid to review the national curriculum in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests to combat “institutional racism in the UK”. 

In a letter to the Education Secretary coordinated by Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran, MPs from across the political spectrum call for the inclusion of “a more diverse range of historical perspectives in our curriculum”. The cross-party group request a review of the curriculum is undertaken by leading historians and advocates from BAME backgrounds.

The MPs from all major opposition parties also call for teachers to have access to “the support and training necessary to translate it into learning in the classroom”, to ensure “real progress” in schools.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson said: 

“The Black Lives Matter protests in the UK and overseas have helped to expose inequalities and injustices that black British citizens face in the UK in 2020. They are galvanising people across the country and right around the world to tackle racism and injustice head on.

“Education has a huge part to play in this. We all have a duty to make sure the next generation, at least, has a better understanding of the historical injustices contributing to institutional racism that persists in the UK and elsewhere today. As a former teacher, I know first-hand the value of education as a tool to empower young people to make change happen.

“That’s why we need to include a more diverse range of historical perspectives in our curriculum and examinations. Teaching a more diverse curriculum in schools is one way we can make greater, swifter progress. We must also ensure that teachers have the training and resources they need to deliver this.”

The full text of the cross-party letter is below

10 June 2020

Dear Mr Williamson,

The protests in the UK in support of Black Lives Matter has helped, yet again, to highlight the stark disparities and struggles that black British citizens face in their own country.  

It is clear to us, the undersigned, that education can play its part in closing these inequalities and ending institutional racism in the UK. Everyone’s understanding of the world and recent events, our ability to empathise with those that call out racism and inequality can be vastly improved and teaching in schools is one way we can begin to make greater progress.  

We therefore call on you to facilitate a review of the UK’s history curriculum by leading historians and advocates from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The aim of this review will be to diversify the current syllabus, broaden its remit to cover a much wider range of not only black history but the history of all people of colour. Extending this review out to the entire curriculum would then be a necessary next step.

By including a more diverse range of historical perspectives in our curriculum and exams we can ensure that the next generation have a better understanding of the issues of race affecting us all today. This will be achieved by going beyond the current UK curriculum’s traditionally narrow focus. Our curriculum must be broadened and where topics are currently covered, they must be reviewed. For example, we must include a far more balanced reading of Great Britain’s colonial and Imperial past; of its legacy of exploitation and abuse, specifically. With greater knowledge we can begin to understand areas of our recent history too, that not only show our failings as a society, such as the treatment of the Windrush generation, but the overwhelmingly positive contribution black people and people of all ethnicities have made to our society. The wider context of BAME lives through history must also be included and must not only touch on the struggle for equality but all aspects of life, whether food, music, science or literature, for example.

Once the curriculum has been reviewed and the recommendations implemented, we also demand that you ensure teaching staff have the support and training necessary to translate it into learning in the classroom. Many teachers feel that training in this area is currently inadequate; add to that, out of date textbooks and a narrow range of approved sources, it will be difficult for teachers to make much headway. This is why we also ask that whilst making changes to the curriculum you also ensure that resources and funding are put in place to support teachers through this transition so that these changes lead to real progress in schools.

Finally, we understand that our demands for the inclusion of more, and a wider range of,  black history, as well as the history of other ethnicities and cultures, in the curriculum and exams in schools, will primarily only benefit the next generation, but it is part of the necessary changes we must make as a country if we are to achieve greater progress reducing the inequality and injustice that pervade the lives of BAME people living both in the UK and across the world. We hope that you will consider our request with the urgency it demands.

Yours sincerely,

Layla Moran MP

Debbie Abrahams MP
Sir Peter Bottomley MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Dawn Butler MP
Ian Byrne MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Wendy Chamberlain MP
Daisy Cooper MP
Sir Edward Davey MP
Tim Farron MP
Stephen Farry MP
Claire Hanna MP
Wera Hobhouse MP
Margaret Hodge MP
Sir George Howarth MP
Christine Jardine MP
Kim Johnson MP
Ben Lake MP
Clive Lewis MP
Tony Lloyd MP
Caroline Lucas MP
Sarah Olney MP
Dr Dan Poulter MP
Virendra Sharma MP
Barry Sheerman MP
Andrew Slaughter MP
Jamie Stone MP
Dr Philippa Whitford MP
Munira Wilson MP
Mohammad Yassin MP

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