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MPs to debate petition relating to Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum

24 June 2021

On Monday 28 June, MPs will debate a petition relating to Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum.

The debate will be led by Petitions Committee member Chris Evans MP. MPs from all parties can take part, and the Government will send a Minister to respond.

Teach Britain's colonial past as part of the UK's compulsory curriculum

The petition, which received more than 121,000 signatures, states: “Currently, it is not compulsory for primary or secondary school students to be educated on Britain's role in colonisation, or the transatlantic slave trade. We petition the government to make education on topics such as these compulsory, with the ultimate aim of a far more inclusive curriculum.”

In response to the petition, the Government said: “The history curriculum gives teachers and schools the freedom and flexibility to use specific examples from history to teach pupils about the history of Britain and the wider world at all stages. It is for schools and teachers themselves to determine which examples, topics and resources to use to stimulate and challenge pupils and reflect key points in history.”

Investigation by the Petitions and Women and Equalities Committees

The debate follows a series of joint evidence sessions held by the Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee last year, where the Committees heard from petitioners, experts and academics on the need for change. The Committees then put this evidence to Schools Minister Nick Gibb MP and an official from the Department for Education in a session in February 2021.

To inform this work, the Petitions Committee sought the views and experiences of teachers, school staff and home educators through an online survey. Key findings in the survey included:

  • 90% of respondents felt there should be a statutory requirement for all children to be taught explicitly about the history of Britain’s ethnic and cultural minorities, including Britain’s role in colonisation and the transatlantic slave trade
  • 45% of primary school respondents and 64% of secondary school respondents ‘strongly disagreed’ or ‘disagreed’ with the statement that ‘The National Curriculum ensures that students in my school experience a balanced range of ethnically and culturally diverse role models’.
  • 1 in 4 teachers told us they lacked confidence in their ability to develop their pupils’ understanding of Black history and cultural diversity. This lack of confidence was expressed fairly consistently by teachers no matter their ethnic background.
  • The most requested form of additional support was ‘Specialised CPD/in-school training’, selected by 88% of primary and 85% of secondary teachers

What are petitions debates?

Petitions debates are ‘general’ debates which allow MPs from all parties to discuss the important issues raised by one, or more petitions, and put their concerns to Government Ministers.

Further Information

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