Speaking in a Westminster Hall Debate, Islwyn MP Chris Evans lead a debate on petitions that called to make the UK curriculum more inclusive of BAME history, to add education on diversity and racism, and to teach Britain’s colonial past.
The petition to teach Britain’s colonial past reached the threshold of 100,000 signatures within 48 hours of being created. Mr Evans said this is a testament to the strength of feeling across the country that this change is necessary and urgent.
Mr Evans argued that “while some black and BAME history is now taught in schools, it is still far too narrow in scope.” He raised the issue that most student’s experiences of black history up until A-level is incredibly American focussed. People learn about Malcom X and Martin Luther King, but not about black British history.
“Black British history has been largely forgotten from the UK curriculum, despite the fact that there have been Black Britons since the Roman times”, Mr Evans said. He went on to say that not only is teaching such a narrow view of history a disservice to the subject, but it makes it far less accessible to students.
Mr Evans stressed that “a diverse curriculum is necessary to provide new entry points into history, and new standpoints from which we can understand our past, and the world we currently live in.” He included the importance of teaching women’s history in his speech as well, highlighting the paucity of female figures in history textbooks, particularly those of colour.
Mr Evans went on to say that we are currently letting students down with the lack of diversity in our curriculum, saying it is our duty to ensure that all students see themselves represented in their education.
Speaking after the debate, Mr Evans said:
“History studied at GCSE and at A-level all too often seems to be the history of white, powerful men. This is not a full history of Britain, Europe or the world.
“The roles of the working classes, of other races, of women, and all those who have been under-represented have not been granted this historical significance in the UK curriculum that they deserve.
“The history of Britain is incredibly diverse, and curriculums should reflect this.