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Black history should be “fully integrated” into school curriculum, says Islington Council

Black history should be “fully integrated” into the school curriculum, according to a motion passed at last night’s full meeting of Islington Council to mark Black History Month 2015. 

At last night’s full meeting Islington Council passed a motion warning that progress towards promoting Black history, culture, and heritage, would be “severely limited” unless these subjects are embedded in the school curriculum all year round. The motion came as the council prepares to celebrate Black History Month 2015 with a comprehensive set of events and activities.

The council has already begun work to achieve this goal by collaborating with the charity ‘Every Voice’ to further develop a more inclusive approach – entitled ‘All World History, All Year Round’ – to teaching history in our local schools.   

Every Voice are promoting a programme of training that will enable secondary school history teachers to teach a wider range of Black history and present otherwise typical topics from a different perspective.

For example, one participating school were supported by consultants from the Schools’ History project to teach the subject of the Second World War – as part of a wider world history from 1901 to the present day syllabus – with a particular focus on the experiences of Black Britons and troops from the Commonwealth to the Home Front.

Helped by another History organisation, Justice to History, other secondary schools are embedding a new unit of work studying Muslim science, and the city of Timbuktu, through time in their curriculum.

A primary school, supported by the Migration Museum Project, have developed a Year 6 History project exploring their communities’ experiences of migration.

Other primary schools are also working with  the independent organisation, ‘World of Wonderful’, to develop teaching resources for all key stages.

At last night’s meeting it was agreed that the ‘All World History, All Year Round’ approach could help many local pupils to see themselves in the history they study, not just for one month a year, but all the time.

Islington Council’s Equalities Champion, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, who put forward the motion, said: “The rich diversity of Islington is fundamental to the very fabric of our community and to making the borough a fantastic place in which to live and work.

“Every child should feel included and engaged by the history they study in school, at all times, and no student should feel overlooked by the education they receive.

“We are already working together with some schools to develop a more culturally inclusive curriculum. But we think that much more could be done to showcase Black cultural heritage and Black contributions to British society and history.

“I’d encourage anyone who wants to contribute to Islington’s All World History agenda to get in touch with ideas, events and educational resources.” 

As part of this month’s Black History Month celebrations the council is working with a number of organisations across the borough to deliver an exciting programme of activities and events.

These include workshops run by the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company (founded by UK rapper and Islington resident, Akala) and public lectures on Nigerian history and soundsystem culture and resistance, as well as an evening with author Nawal El Saadawi.

Last year’s Black History Month events in Islington saw a 50% increase in participation on the previous year – with over 2,000 participants and community partners taking part in the celebrations.