Education leaders have called for a review of the curriculum to ensure pupils learn about black history, as well as calling for trainee teachers to be taught anti-racist strategies for the classroom.
Commenting on recent global Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said the curriculum should be revised.
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“This is not the time for patience but for action against racism," she said.
“These protests, giving voice to deep inequalities, raise urgent questions. The demand is for safety, for equal respect and dignity, for equal representation and participation and freedom from racist violence. This is a demand for human rights."
“We must improve the curriculum so that students learn about how Britain was founded on global histories. Students should learn about the achievements and roles of black Britons in every field of human endeavour.
"And they should learn about the campaigns by black workers for equal treatment and the stand against injustice.
“Racism will not be addressed without positive action and we need to talk openly and candidly about racism and the social division and harmful stereotyping it creates for black workers and for young black people.
Dr Bousted added that "a wider vision of education" was needed following the outbreak of Covid-19 that did not only focus on exam results.
The NEU has called on the government to:
- Review the curriculum so "it embraces the fact that Britain is rooted in black and global history, achievement and culture and includes the achievements of black Britons; as recommended by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry".
- Review initial teacher training so that all trainees are equipped with anti-racist tools and strategies for the benefit of all pupils.
- Adopt a strategy so that the pipeline of new entrants into teaching is significantly more diverse over the next four years.
- Learn from the Windrush Review and develop a Department for Education plan to teach about the history of the UK and its relationship to the rest of the world – including Britain's colonial history and the history of migration.
- Provide immediate advice to employers in the education sector about racial disparities in the pandemic in order to minimise risks to the safety of black workers and their communities.
Dr Bousted said that this term, the NEU would be launching an anti-racist framework to respond to the experiences of black teachers and pupils and help education staff develop anti-racist approaches.
“We support the initiatives from NGOs such as the Runnymede Trust and youth movements such as The black Curriculum to highlight the importance of challenging the education system to be more inclusive and making the curriculum representative and relevant,” she said.