School students in the London borough of Hackney are to learn about Black British history via a groundbreaking new curriculum. Hackney’s Diverse Curriculum – the Black Contribution is a nine-week lesson plan spanning early years to KS3 and KS4 students. Modules include the Windrush Generation, Untold Stories, British Identity and Diversity in Science.
Two new public artworks honouring the Windrush generation, set to be unveiled in the next couple of years, will help support the curriculum and highlight the power of storytelling through artistic expression. Artefacts from Hackney’s museum and archive will bring stories of migration and the origins of Black culture to life.
The Diverse Curriculum was born out of a desire to develop a curriculum that represents the contributions of the Black community, which have shaped the UK we live in today. It follows a motion proposed by the mayor of Hackney last summer for the borough to strive to be anti-racist.
There are many reasons why this work was called for – but primarily, it is a vehicle to affect systemic change. It is important that all young people in Hackney, as well as council staff, see a commitment to share the positive contributions the Black community has made. Hackney champions the importance of children seeing themselves reflected positively in their curriculum, and not resting on a narrative of oppression.
Many of Hackney’s teachers have been developing and diversifying their school curricula. So it was important that we asked them to create learning resources that can be used across subjects, in line with national curriculum expectations, supporting diversification and inclusivity, with practical solutions about how to do it well.
To decolonise the curriculum is to not remove content that must be taught. Instead, it is to notice the gaps or silences of communities and their contributions to our history, and ensure that we discuss that and give context as to why it happened.
There are elements of social justice and social action threaded throughout the units of work, as we want to ensure that all young people engaging with this work have a strong sense of having the power to affect change, and understand the variety of ways that this can be achieved.
The resources provide practical examples of how to make the curriculum inclusive, with adaptable PowerPoint slides that teachers can make appropriate for their own classes. Each unit of work includes a list of further resources and links to support the subject knowledge of teachers, while upskilling them. This also strengthens the racial literacy of all staff and develops their understanding of what race and racism in the UK is, supporting the curriculum they teach in and out of the classroom.
They also provide a clear model of how to ensure that the practices that were used to diversify the Hackney curriculum can be implemented in any school. We hope that educators take this support as part of the first step in creating an inclusive curriculum fit for the 21st century.
Orlene Badu is an education and leadership consultant at Hackney Learning Trust