Growing calls to decolonise the curriculum have focused on the history syllabus, but the annual conference of the NASUWT union was told on Monday that all subjects should be inclusive and ensure black visibility in their teaching.
Michelle Codrington-Rogers, a citizenship teacher in Oxford who was the first black national president of the NASUWT, told members it was not just about black history, “it’s about the whole curriculum”. She said every subject had a responsibility to change the narrative that black people only have a history of enslavement and colonisation.
“We built the pyramids, developed modern numbers, built universities. Our ancestors were philosophers, scientists, military strategists, authors, writers, activists and so much more,” she said.
“We have a responsibility to be inclusive for all of our students and this starts with us ensuring that there is black visibility for our children and young people. Not just black children, but all children. It is crucial to recognise that black history is all of our history.”
Demands for the curriculum in schools to be decolonised have gathered pace over the past year as a result of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The government has responded to demands by saying there is already flexibility and freedom within the curriculum to study black history.
Members attending the virtual conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion, which stated: “Conference believes that curriculum frameworks across the UK should reflect, respect and value the contributions of all communities that have contributed to building the UK.
“Conference further believes that black history is a part of British history and thus should be fully embedded and taught across the curriculum. Conference asserts that education should equip all children and young people to understand and respect their own and each other’s histories, cultures and traditions, and promote critical thinking.”
The NASUWT will work with campaigners to press for inclusive curriculum frameworks and publish materials and resources on decolonising the curriculum. The union will also work with teacher training providers to embed anti-racist teaching.
Dr Patrick Roach, the NASUWT general secretary and and chair of the TUC’s anti-racism taskforce, said: “Education has a vital role to play in teaching future generations about our country’s shared history, promoting equality, inclusion and respect for others, and in teaching about the historical injustices that continue to drive all forms of discrimination and extremism in our society today.”