Wales Makes Black History Lessons Compulsory in New School Curriculum
Ministers hope the change will help young people in Wales become “informed and ethical citizens.”
All school children in Wales will be taught about racism and the contributions of Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities (BAME) to Welsh society, the country’s education minister has confirmed.
Kirsty Williams, the education minister, said the changes would help children and young people become “ethical and informed citizens of Wales and the world.”
The devolved Welsh government has recently voted through a new school curriculum set to be introduced in 2022.
The curriculum involves six areas of learning and experience, but does not set out exactly what schools should be teaching, the BBC reports. However, the government has said that it will need to reflect the experiences and contributions of BAME communities and individuals in past and present Wales.
A working group had been set up by the government to look into how Black and Asian history was taught in schools and how racial inequality was affecting educational outcomes in Wales. It was led by Prof. Charlotte Williams OBE, who has held academic positions in social work in the UK and Australia.
Williams concluded that: “The attainment of children and young people from some minority communities is being hampered by a curriculum that has failed to represent their histories, and the contributions of their communities, past and present.”
Williams added that there is a lack of role models in educational staff, that means schools do not “adequately reflect the ethnically diverse profile of Wales.” Williams herself is mixed race and has written a best-selling book on her experiences of growing up in Llandudno, north Wales.
Her report had 51 recommendations including: mandatory anti-racism and diversity training for all trainee and acting teachers; BAME history to be taught in schools; and scholarships to support more BAME students into teacher training.
The Welsh government said £500,000 would be provided to support the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
Following the global Black Lives Matter protests that took place in May and June 2020 following the death of George Floyd, a debate began in the UK about how little is taught in schools about Black history and British colonialism.
Hundreds of thousands of people signed petitions calling on the government to do more to expand the national curriculum to include these subjects.
Lavinya Stennett, founder of the social enterprise The Black Curriculum, wrote an open letter to the UK education secretary, Gavin Williamson, calling for a review of the school syllabus in light of “increased awareness of racial history in Britain in recent weeks.”
"We have existed in Britain and been pioneers, inventors, icons,” Stennett told BBC News. “And then colonialism happened, and that has shaped the experiences of Black people. But that is not all we are.”