Spielman: Schools 'itching' to teach race inequality

Lockdown means teenagers are missing out on discussing slave trade and civil rights at school, says Ofsted chief

Kate Parker

Tackling racism: Schools are 'itching' to teach about inequality and students are missing out on this amid the coronavirus school closures, says Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman

The vast majority of schools are “itching” to get on with teaching students about historical inequalities arising from the slave trade and British empire, chief inspector Amanda Spielman said today.

She was speaking after far-right protests took place throughout the UK over the weekend, and after concerns were raised by the Black Lives Matter movement over historical statues.

Speaking on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Ms Spielman said that she’d “love” to have students in school studying history and its "wider context", instead of being "bored" at home.

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She was asked: “We’ve seen thousands of people taking to the streets in recent weeks protesting about inequality in our society and, of course, one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal against that inequality is education, are you really worried about what could happen to a generation of young people who could be spending months and months out of the classroom?"

Tackling racism through education

She replied: “Boredom and frustration, which most of our teenagers are experiencing at the moment, is clearly not helpful. I’d love to have them in school at the moment studying history, getting that wider context, getting more time learning about historical topics like the civil rights movement in America, the slave trade and the British empire, all of which are things the vast the majority of schools do normally teach.

“We’ve got children who aren’t getting that context, aren’t getting the opportunity to discuss them in school through citizenship lessons, and through all ways we go about preparing young people to take their place in society.

“The vast majority of schools I know will be itching to get back and get on with helping children think and talk their way through all the issues we have here.”

Earlier this week, NEU teaching union joint-general secretary Dr Mary Bousted called for a review of the curriculum to ensure that pupils learn about black history, and said trainee teachers should be taught anti-racist strategies for the classroom.

Current and former black students spoke out about being subjected to racism in the UK’s private schools this week.

In a letter to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) – which represents most leading UK private schools – current and former black students describe being subjected to teachers' jokes about segregation, "constant use of the n-word" and bananas being left outside a locker.

In the letter, one pupil described another classmate painting themselves brown to dress up as a black character. Another tells how at a rugby tournament they were "called the n-word and told to pick up my banana peels".

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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