Page updated 18th September 2020 – You can read the response Hilary has now had from the Minister of State for School Standards about this issue here

I have been contacted by many constituents about Black British history in the national curriculum following the brutal killing of George Floyd in the USA.

I agree that schools need to teach children about Black British history. It is vital that future generations here in Leeds and across the country learn about the role that Black Britons have played in our country’s story and in the struggle for racial equality, not least because understanding the breadth of our history is crucial to tackling the injustices and racism in our society and around the world that persist today.

The Black Curriculum initiative published a report in January 2020 on Black British History in the National Curriculum. It explores how the “current History National Curriculum systematically omits the contribution of Black British history in favour of a dominant White, Eurocentric curriculum that fails to reflect our multi ethnic and broadly diverse society”. I am also aware that the Runnymede Trust has said, “the way history is taught in our schools often fails to include Black British histories, and broader British histories of empire and migration”.

The Government has recently stated that it “believes teachers should be able to use their own knowledge and expertise to determine how they teach their pupils, and to make choices about what they teach. As part of a broad and balanced curriculum, pupils should be taught about different societies, and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, and this can include the voices and experience of Black people.”

I am concerned that what is taught in schools has been narrowed in recent years, whereas every child should have the opportunity to enjoy a wide-ranging, accurate and reflective curriculum. The Government must therefore now improve the teaching of Black British history and the history of the British Empire, colonialism and slavery, to help ensure that their legacy is more widely understood across the country. It should support an Emancipation Educational Trust, aimed at educating future generations about slavery and the struggle for emancipation. And I hope that the Education Secretary will meet with those who are campaigning for these changes

Hilary Benn

MP for Leeds Central


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