'Reflections' on Black history in schools and the Windrush legacy

L’myah Sherae, founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education.

L’myah Sherae, founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education. - Credit: Courtesy of L’myah Sherae

As we pay tribute to the outstanding contribution of the Windrush generation this week, it’s crucial that we also reflect upon the way in which their legacy is solidified in schools. This intrinsically relates to the teaching of Black history.

Pupils cannot acquire a thorough understanding of British history, without learning about the contributions of Black people both within Britain, and from abroad.

Hackney Council states that approximately 8 per cent of Hackney’s population is of Afro-Caribbean ethnic background and it is believed the borough is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of the Windrush generation and Commonwealth countries around the world.

The above poses the key question, why doesn’t the Department for Education make Black history lessons mandatory in English schools, as will be the case in Wales? The government states that the curriculum gives teachers “freedom and flexibility”.

However, a survey by the House of Commons Petitions Committee found that 69 per cent of survey respondents ‘strongly disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ that the curriculum guarantees that children leave primary school with an appropriate understanding of Britain’s diverse history.

In addition, 90 per cent of respondents felt there should be a statutory requirement for all children to be taught explicitly.

That is why the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education will be holding an event called Windrush Day: The importance of Diversifying the Curricula.

Speakers include the group's chair and celebrity chef, musician and entrepreneur Levi Roots, Hackney MP and vice-chair Diane Abbott, founder of Operation Black Vote Lord Simon Woolley and founder of The Black Curriculum Lavinya Stennett. 

When thinking about the Windrush generation and their legacy, it is imperative that we reflect upon how Caribbean communities and children are treated in our institutions today. Commemorating the profound impact of the Windrush generation is important, but we must also make an honest reflection about the kind of society we want to build.

L’myah Sherae is founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education. She will host the Windrush event on June 22 at 6pm. Find out more at raceequalityineducationappg.org/events

Hackney Council’s guidance for the Windrush generation and support for undocumented migrants can be found here.


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