Teachers’ leaders to debate future of slavery and the British Empire in curriculum

By Grainne Cuffe, Local Democracy Reporter

Teachers’ leaders will debate how much to include the history of slavery and the conquest of the British Empire’s colonies in lessons at a virtual conference on Monday.

Lewisham National Education Union (NEU) will discuss how to “decolonise” curriculums as part of a “conversation across the borough on what we want our schools to look like after lockdown”.

Parents, students, and school workers are invited to the discussion, which will cover what children should learn, how to make schools greener and more inclusive, and how to work with other schools in the borough.

Decolonising might mean having more representation from black and non-Western scholars – as well as discussing who writes history.

A Lewisham NEU spokesman said: “The Covid-19 crisis has raised important questions about the future of our schools.

“School workers, parents, and students have worked incredibly hard to make things work, but the pandemic has revealed things that need to change.

“Lewisham NEU want to talk to you about how we are going to change things in our borough.

“We want students, parents, school workers and the wider community to join us in July to start the wheels turning.”

Speakers include Cleo Lewis, assistant head teacher at Olive Ap Academy, Thurrock, author and education consultant Phil Beadle, NEU primary teacher and environmentalist Silvia D Barber, and Lewisham students.

The Government has given £1 billion to a school catch-up programme, aiming to help pupils cover lessons they missed during lockdown.

The most disadvantaged pupils will have access to tutors through a £350m programme from September.

Primary and secondary schools will get £650m to spend on one-to-one or group tuition for any pupils they think need it.

Schools are due to fully reopen in September, although concerns remain about Covid-19.

The Prime Minister also announced £1 billion for “crumbling schools” in a new 10-year rebuilding programme, even though the National Audit office said three years ago £6.7 billion was needed bring all schools to a “satisfactory” level.

The funding will be split between 50 projects. Mr Johnson said: “It’s important we lay the foundations for a country where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, with our younger generations front and centre of this mission.”





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