Children should be taught to be “proud” of the country’s past, the Education Secretary has said. He added that the curriculum should also be “reflective” of Britain’s multicultural society.
Gavin Williamson said he is “incredibly interested” in looking at the school history curriculum and making sure it appeals to pupils from ethnic minorities.
“It is really important that the history taught in schools looks at the rich diversity and tapestry that has made our nation so great, and the important role that people from all backgrounds have played in our history,” he told The Telegraph. “We have always got to ensure that we teach the good and bad about history.”
Calls to “decolonise” the history curriculum have been gaining pace at universities, where students have urged professors to examine whether courses are too dominated by white male European points of view.
They have also been growing in schools, where many teachers are keen for pupils to learn the history of colonialism and the slave trade from a less Eurocentric perspective.
Mr Williamson went on to say: “But we should also be very proud of our history and I would always want schools to be celebrating our great nation’s history and the important role that we have played in the world and shaping the world for the better.
“And that means making sure we are always very reflective of diversity and of all those people who have made an important role in making the history of our nation.”
A report by the Royal Historical Society said that teachers must stop devoting so much time to slavery because it puts black children off history.
The report, published in 2018, found that the “seemingly relentless focus” on the exploitation and abolition of slavery can be “intellectually limiting and, at times, alienating” for black pupils.
Aside from slavery, the history of British black and minority ethnic communities are “often absent” from the classroom, the report said. In order to foster a more inclusive environment for black students, teachers must “go beyond these limited vantage points”, it added.
Last month the women and equalities minister said that teachers who tell their pupils that white privilege is a fact are breaking the law.
Kemi Badenoch told the Commons there was a “dangerous trend” in race relations that should not be taught in schools. She was speaking in response to the Labour MP Dawn Butler, who said history needs to be “decolonised”.