History Curriculum: Black History

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:07 pm on 8th September 2020.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 6:07 pm, 8th September 2020

If the hon. Lady will forgive me, at the moment we are in the middle of a covid crisis: we are focused on tackling the issues of GCSEs and A-levels, the autumn season and next year’s summer exams, making sure that schools are reopened safely—getting people back into school, back into study and back into catching up on lost education—and all the other issues that relate to tackling the covid crisis that is confronting this country and the Government. Department officials have actually, though, discussed black issues with a number of organisations, and we do welcome the profile given to the importance of teaching about the contribution of black and minority ethnic people to Britain’s history by bodies such as the Runnymede Trust, The Black Curriculum, Fill in the Blanks, and many other groups and individuals over the years.

On tackling discrimination and intolerance in our schools, I first want to say that there is no place for racial inequality in our society or in our education system. The Department for Education is committed to an inclusive education system that recognises and embraces diversity and supports all pupils and students to tackle racism and have the knowledge and tools to do so. We are funding several anti-bullying programmes that encompass tackling discriminatory bullying—for example, the Anne Frank Trust’s Free To Be programme, which encourages young people to think about the importance of tackling prejudice, discrimination and bullying. Our preventing and tackling bullying guidance sets out that schools should develop a consistent approach to monitoring bullying incidents and evaluating the effectiveness of their approaches. It also points schools to organisations that can provide support with tackling bullying related to race, religion and nationality.

In addition, effective holocaust education supports pupils to learn about the possible consequences of antisemitism and other forms of racism and extremism and to help reduce the spread of antisemitism and religious intolerance. The Department supports schools’, pupils’ and teachers’ understanding of the holocaust by providing funding for the Holocaust Education Trust’s Lessons from Auschwitz project and University College London’s Centre for Holocaust Education. Additionally, in October 2018 the Chancellor announced £1.7 million for a new programme in 2019-20 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by British troops. Within and beyond the national curriculum, schools are required to promote fundamental British values actively, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for and tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet for raising these important matters. I welcome the opportunity to set out how black history is already supported within and beyond the national curriculum. I am confident that our schools will continue to educate children to become tolerant, culturally and historically knowledgeable citizens who embrace the values of modern Britain.