This afternoon, MPs will debate e-petition 324092, relating to Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum. Chris Evans, member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate. The Government will send a Minister to respond.
Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum
The petition, which has more than 268,000 signatures, states: “Currently, it is not compulsory for primary or secondary school students to be educated on Britain’s role in colonisation, or the transatlantic slave trade. We petition the government to make education on topics such as these compulsory, with the ultimate aim of a far more inclusive curriculum.”
In its response to the petition, the Government said: “The history curriculum at Key Stage 3 includes the statutory theme “ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain 1745-1901”. Topics within statutory themes are chosen by schools and teachers.”
The debate follows a series of joint evidence sessions held by the Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee last year, where the Committees heard from petitioners, experts and academics on the need for change. The Committees then put this evidence to Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP and an official from the Department for Education in a session in February 2021.
To inform this work, the Petitions Committee sought the views and experiences of teachers, school staff and home educators through an online survey. Key findings in the survey included:
- 90% of respondents felt there should be a statutory requirement for all children to be taught explicitly about the history of Britain’s ethnic and cultural minorities, including Britain’s role in colonisation and the transatlantic slave trade
- 45% of primary school respondents and 64% of secondary school respondents ‘strongly disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the statement that ‘The National Curriculum ensures that students in my school experience a balanced range of ethnically and culturally diverse role models’.
- 1 in 4 teachers told us they lacked confidence in their ability to develop their pupils’ understanding of Black history and cultural diversity. This lack of confidence was expressed fairly consistently by teachers no matter their ethnic background.
- The most requested form of additional support was ‘Specialised CPD/in-school training’, selected by 88% of primary and 85% of secondary teachers
The debate will last 90 minutes, and will provide opportunities for MPs to question Government Ministers directly on these issues. The debate will take place in Westminster Hall from 18:15, and will be available to view on Parliament TV and on YouTube.