History: Curriculum

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Storey Lord Storey Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Education)

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the national curriculum framework includes (1) black history, and (2) content on the UK’s colonial and imperial past.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department is committed to an inclusive education system which recognises and embraces diversity and supports all pupils and students to tackle racism and have the knowledge and tools to do so.

The national curriculum is a framework setting out the content of what the department expects schools to cover in each subject. The curriculum does not set out how curriculum subjects, or topics within the subjects, should be taught. The department 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. The flexibility within the history curriculum means that there is the opportunity for teachers to teach about Black history across the spectrum of themes and eras set out in the curriculum. For example, at key stage 1, schools can teach about the lives of key Black historical figures such as Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks or others; and at key stage 3, cover the development and end of the British Empire and Britain’s transatlantic slave trade, its effects and its eventual abolition. The teaching of Black history need not be limited to these examples

It is important that pupils are taught how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world. A balanced history curriculum equips pupils to ask perceptive questions, to think critically, to weigh evidence, sift arguments, and develop perspective and judgement. Fundamentally, it supports pupils to understand how Britain became the country it is today.

There is also scope to include Black and minority ethnic history and experience in other curriculums, such as in:

Citizenship: At key stage 4, students should be taught about the diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding.

PSHE: Schools have flexibility to teach topics such as Black history as part of their Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) programme and through the introduction of Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education students will be taught the importance of respectful relationships in particular how stereotypes, based on sex, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or disability, can cause damage.

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