9th Aug, 2020

Pupils at St Augustine's demand black history be taught on curriculum

Harry Leach 25th Jun, 2020 Updated: 26th Jun, 2020

CURRENT and former pupils at St Augustine’s Catholic High School have penned an open letter calling for black history to be taught on the school’s curriculum.

The letter – which has more than 310 signatures including school staff and parents – was sent to governors and headteacher Mr Gerald O’Connor this week.

It calls for topics on colonialism and slavery to be taught as well as other ‘atrocities that Britain played a part in’ throughout its history.

The letter, seen by the Standard, read: “Education is a powerful tool and St Augustine’s needs to be at the heart of the fight against racism.

“We feel whilst studying at your school, we were provided with a predominantly white, Eurocentric perspective that has left many of us ignorant to the racism and injustices that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) face.”

The idea for the letter came from former pupil Lorna Treen following the death of George Floyd to police brutality in America.

Since then the Black Lives Matter movement has exposed the horrors of racial injustice and has led many to look more deeply into Britain’s role in perpetuating inequalities.

Journalist Lorna, aged 25, said: “There is pressure on other schools in the area to do the same.

“A similar letter has been written to Alcester Grammar, which I know is where many Redditch children attend.

“Worcestershire is a majority white county – with 7.6 per cent Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) persons living there.

“Education in a majority white area needs to address the issues of the wider community, to ensure students understand and appreciate the global community to which they contribute.”

Suggestions on how St Augustine’s could improve its curriculum include celebrating Black History Month and having art and English classes which include the works of BIPOC.

Other ideas include diversifying the staff and governing body and making sure history lessons provide an ‘honest and comprehensive history of the British empire’.

And citizenship classes must provide students with a global perspective on racism, white privilege and civil rights.

Year 12 pupil Bella added: “The letter is brilliant and summaries how we feel but I need to make it clear that we’re not trying to belittle the school.

“It’s a great place to go and has a lot of community spirit.

“It’s not us against them, we are all in this global fight together.”

Mr Gerald O’Connor said: “As principal of Saint Augustine’s and with the support of my governors, I fully embrace this cause.

“I am personally leading on plans to utilise the committed support of our community to drive forward

meaningful change.”

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