EQUALITY AND THE DRAFT HISTORY CURRICULUM

Katherine Edwards 

Image© John Addison, Print, Government Office, East India Co St Helena

At the recent memorial service to mark the twentieth anniversary of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, the Prime Minister spoke of Stephen’s death as having brought ‘monumental change’ to British society.  Those of us concerned about the implications for equality and multiculturalism in the proposed new history curriculum found the irony of this comment hard to take.

One of the recommendations of the 1999 Macpherson Report on the Stephen Lawrence case was a ‘National Curriculum aimed at valuing cultural diversity and preventing racism, in order better to reflect the needs of a diverse society’. Yet although there are good grounds for thinking that this aim has been taken seriously in the education system up to now, we need to be clear about what a stark reversal the new draft national curriculum for history represents.  If it comes into force, it is very likely to set the recommendations of the Macpherson Report back by at least a generation.  Read more of this post

Stories, schools and statues – the Tory view of history

Robin Richardson

copyright Simon Harriyott`s photostream

First, tweeted Michael Rosen recently, they came for Mary Seacole. He was echoing a famous poem about resistance to totalitarian rule. And, he continued, because I’m not a woman and I’m not black, I didn’t speak out.

Well actually, Rosen himself has spoken out with characteristic eloquence about Mary Seacole and her place in the national curriculum in England. And well over thirty thousand people, so far, have signed a petition urging that she should continue to feature explicitly in the teaching of history in schools. There was recently a letter from Jesse Jackson and 50 others about this in The Times, the Archbishop of York has weighed in with an article in the Sun, an early day motion is currently open for signature in parliament, and the issue appears to have split the coalition government wide open, with Nick Clegg pledging he will oppose the new plans for the history curriculum which, according to leaks, Michael Gove is shortly going to announce.

Adding to a widespread sense of outrage, there are rumours that Gove’s private office has blocked access by civil servants at the Department for Education to the website of a distinguished professor of education who has dared to criticise the plans. Next, Rosen’s pastiche might continue, they came for the academics. Read more of this post

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