By S Neeraj Krishna
THE National Curriculum should shun “one-dimensional perspectives” and better reflect the diversity of Britain, Sadiq Khan has said in an appeal while announcing plans to give young Londoners a “more complete perspective” in history and race.
Coinciding with the start of Black History Month of Thursday (1), the London mayor wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson seeking changes to the National Curriculum to provide young people with “a deeper, more nuanced understanding of history, including frank reflections on colonialism and its enduring legacy”.
He also announced on Friday a tie-up between City Hall and social enterprise The Black Curriculum, as part of plans aiming at “enriching and diversifying elements of the London Curriculum, which has served more than 950 primary and secondary schools across the capital”.
A City Hall spokesman said the mayor believed teachers should “feel supported to facilitate open and honest conversations about all aspects of history and race”, and that education boards should boost diversity by including more experts, authors, artists and musicians from minority backgrounds.
“Through the new partnership, The Black Curriculum will help refresh the London Curriculum’s history resources to ensure their content reflects and celebrates London’s rich diversity both historically and in the present day,” the spokesman explained.
“The Black Curriculum addresses the lack of emphasis placed on Black British history in education with the aim of raising attainment amongst all pupils, providing a sense of identity and belonging, together with improving social cohesion between all communities.”
Khan noted that the pandemic and the mass anti-racism movements “have thrown structural injustice and persistent inequality into stark relief” as he stressed on the “need for meaningful action” to expedite social change.
“Despite huge progress being made in my lifetime, Black Londoners continue to face significant barriers to success,” he added.
“Our pupils come from diverse backgrounds yet are too often presented with a curriculum offering one-dimensional perspectives on Black History, meaning the historic and institutional reasons for these inequalities — and their enduring impact — are still not widely understood.”
The mayor said he was “proud” to collaborate with The Black Curriculum to further embed “equality and diversity into the fabric of the London Curriculum”.
Khan urged the government to “ensure schools are given the tools and support they need to empower a new generation of Londoners to strive towards a fairer, more equitable city”.
Lavinya Stennett, CEO of The Black Curriculum, stressed it was “a crucial time for the UK and London, especially, to engage with Black British history and fuller narratives that uncover the true diversity of our society”.
“We hope that through this partnership, these resources will be accessible and support a wide array of audiences to become more knowledgeable citizens,” she added.