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Wales to make teaching Black, Asian and minority ethnic histories mandatory in schools

The Welsh government is the first in the UK to make the move, which it announced to mark the start of Black History Month.

Wales is set to become the first UK nation to make the teaching of Black, Asian and minority ethnic histories mandatory in the school curriculum.

The announcement was made to coincide with the start of Black History Month and the new curriculum is set to be introduced from September 2022, subject to final sign-off next month.

It comes after a statue of Wales’s first Black headteacher Betty Campbell was unveiled in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Campbell, who died in 2017, was the first person to include Black history on the Welsh curriculum, teaching her pupils about slavery and its legacy, the ways Black people contributed to British society and apartheid in South Africa.

Welsh Education Minister Jeremy Miles said: “It is vitally important that our education system equips our young people to understand and respect their own and each other’s histories, cultures and traditions.

“If we are to progress as a society, we must create an education system which broadens our understanding and knowledge of the many cultures which have built Wales’s, and the world’s, past and present.”

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The murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement last year sparked renewed calls for the teaching of Black British history in schools across the UK. A petition to make it compulsory has been signed by almost 300,000 people.

In a parliamentary debate this summer resulting from the petition, Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy said “historic amnesia” around Britain’s colonial past was a “blatant political function” to divide the working classes.

And the Labour MP welcomed the Welsh government’s move, telling The Big Issue: “To create a truly equal society, we have to stop whitewashing the past and start educating people about the injustices our country was built on, as well as the heroes and sheroes who fought to overcome them.”

The curriculum will state: “Human societies are complex and diverse, and shaped by human actions and beliefs” and include an expectation that learners “can develop an understanding of the complex, pluralistic and diverse nature of societies, past and present”.

“These stories are diverse, spanning different communities as well as in particular the stories of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people.”

The move follows the formation last year of a working group, led by Professor Charlotte Williams OBE, to improve teaching on Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, including developing new teaching materials and training for teachers and trainee teachers. The group’s work is being backed by a £500,000 grant from the Welsh government.

The Black Curriculum, which aims to ensure Black British history is taught in schools across the UK, is among the organisations working with the Welsh government on the project.

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