Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the teaching of the British Empire in the national curriculum.
Black British history needs to be taught in schools all year round as part of a diverse curriculum that includes and inspires all young people from all backgrounds. As the Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Research published by the education charity Teach First in 2020 found that pupils could complete their GCSEs and leave secondary school without studying a single literary work by a non-white author. Racism is a systemic problem that will require systemic solutions, and the time has come for lasting change. Learning Black histories is a vital part of ensuring that young people have a balanced understanding of Britain’s past and how it has shaped society today.
An awareness of the history of British colonialism and migration to this country will build an important understanding of the forces that shape contemporary racial inequalities. It is crucial to ensure that young people have the tools to challenge present-day racism and discrimination. Teaching Black history is essential to producing lasting change.
I believe we need to know, and to be able to talk about, Britain’s colonial past and its legacy today. For the Government to act responsibly, it would need to ensure that young people learn about Black British history, colonialism, and Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.
The Government has said it welcomes the profile given to the importance of teaching Black history by bodies such as Fill in the Blanks and it will continue to explore what more it can do to support the teaching of Black history. I support calls for the Government to work with anti-racist organisations and other key stakeholders to conduct a review of the curriculum to diversify it, so that it fully reflects modern British society.
Black history is British history, and I can assure you that I will continue to urge the Government to ensure that children are taught about the British Empire in the national curriculum.