24 Jun Press Release: MPs to debate a petition relating to Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum
On Monday 28 June, MPs will debate e-petition 324092, relating to Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum. Chris Evans, member of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate. The Government will send a Minister to respond.
Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum
The petition, which has more than 268,000 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 its response to the petition, the Government said: “The history curriculum at Key Stage 3 includes the statutory theme “ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain 1745-1901”. Topics within statutory themes are chosen by schools and teachers.”
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
The debate will last 90 minutes, and will provide opportunities for MPs to question Government Ministers directly on these issues. The debate will take place in Westminster Hall from 18:15, and will be available to view on Parliament TV and on YouTube.
- ‘Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum’ – view on petition signature map.
- Any Library Briefing Papers for this debate will be available here.
Follow the debate
- Watch the debate live online: https://parliamentlive.tv/Commons or https://youtu.be/mcP3QNGmUpA
- Read the debate transcript: House of Commons – Hansard – UK Parliament
- Follow the Committee on Twitter: https://twitter.com/hocpetitions
- You can also follow the debate with the hashtag: #CurriculumDiversityDebate
Where in the country was this petition signed?
The top 10 parliamentary constituencies that supported the petition ‘Teach Britain’s colonial past as part of the UK’s compulsory curriculum’ are as follows:
- Want to start a petition on behalf of your news outlet but unsure how? Contact the Committee Media Officers Gary Connor or Hannah Olbison on 0207 219 0969 or email@example.com.
- For news and updates follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter @HoCPetitions. Find further information on Petitions Committee, including details of how the Committee handles e-petitions, at: www.parliament.uk/petitions. To unsubscribe from these emails, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Petitions debates allow MPs from across the House to discuss the important issues raised by one or more petitions, and put their concerns to Government Ministers.
- The Petitions Committee is set up by the House of Commons to look at e-petitions and public (paper) petitions. It can:
- ask for more information in writing—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations
- ask for more information in person—from petitioners, the Government, or other relevant people or organisations. This might be in Parliament or somewhere else in the UK
- write to the Government or another public body to press for action on a petition
- ask another parliamentary committee to look into the topic raised by a petition
- put forward petitions for debate in the House of Commons
- The Committee is currently made up of 11 backbench Members of Parliament from Government and Opposition parties. The number of seats each party has is calculated to reflect the membership of the House as a whole. The Chair of the Committee was elected on 29 January 2020. The members of the Committee are:
- Catherine McKinnell (Chair) – Labour
- Tonia Antoniazzi – Labour
- Elliot Colburn – Conservative
- Martyn Day – Scottish National Party
- Chris Evans – Labour
- Katherine Fletcher – Conservative
- Nick Fletcher – Conservative
- Jonathan Gullis – Conservative
- Tom Hunt – Conservative
- Taiwo Owatemi – Labour
- Matt Vickers – Conservative
For media enquiries, contact Select Committee Media Officers Gary Connor or Hannah Olbison
T: 0207 219 0969
For news and updates, follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter @HoCPetitions