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Creating an inclusive classroom beyond Black History Month

October is Black History Month in the UK: a time to celebrate the contribution Black communities and individuals have made in British history, culture and society.

While Black History Month is a crucial event, it’s vital that we embed Black history and antiracism throughout the academic year, and the entire curriculum. To do this effectively, we need to ensure that our classrooms are accessible, welcoming, and safe spaces for all students, whatever their background. But research highlights that there is still much more that needs to be done:

  • 95% of young Black British people have witnessed racist language in education (YMCA, 2020).

  • Black Caribbean children have rates of permanent exclusion about three times that of the pupil population as a whole (EHRC, 2016).

  • The longstanding attainment gap between black and white pupils at A Level widened by a further 1.43 percentage points between 2019 and 2021 (Ofqual, 2021).

At Yes Futures, we are committed to improving equality so that all young people can access the successful futures they deserve. But we understand that, given the pressures that teachers are under, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Below, we’ve gathered a range of resources designed for Black History Month and beyond, to help you to improve inclusivity in your curriculum, classroom, and wider school environment.

Our 5 favourite resources from Black History Month 2021:

1) Stonewall has produced a range of assemblies to highlight the work of Black LGBTQ+ people, such as Ted Brown and the LGBTQ+ and Black liberation movements of the 1970s. The assemblies have been adapted for special schools, primary schools and secondary schools.

2) Mentally Healthy Schools have produced a set of resources for Black History Month focusing on mental health themes, helping schools to explore ideas around diversity, self-belief, identity and the impact of racism on those who experience it.

3) GCHQ’s Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage staff network have created resource packs for schools and youth groups, to help children think about different cultural perspectives and to spark conversations on our differences in an inquisitive and fun way.

4) The National Literacy Trust have produced a calendar to highlight key dates that you can mark in school to honour Black literary figures throughout the year, and learn more about the UK’s journey towards equality.

5) The BBC has produced a series of resources to explore black history, heritage, culture and achievements with your class. Each resource is accompanied by teacher notes to aid classroom use.

More resources to embed inclusivity in your classroom:

1) Penguin Books UK and The Runnymede Trust’s ‘Lit in Colour’ campaign aims to give schools the support and tools needed to introduce more books by people of colour into the classroom. Teachers can access a range of resources designed to spark discussions with your Senior Leadership Team and English Department, including a free audit tool to assess the diversity of your English curriculum.

2) BLAM provide 1-to-1 and group training for teachers wishing to learn how to embed Black British cultural heritage and African and Afro-Caribbean histories into their everyday teaching.

3) The BBC have produced a series of short films for anyone working within educational settings, exploring the experiences of racism and discrimination faced by many black, South Asian and mixed heritage pupils and how teachers can be better allies to these students.

4) This HarvardEd podcast explores strategies for educators to counter their own unconscious biases in schools and classrooms, featuring the authors of the book ‘Unconscious Bias in Schools’.

5) Tes have partnered with BBC, Into Film and The Black Curriculum to produce a series of teaching resources focused on black experiences, including Black British history, teaching mental health, anti-racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

What is Yes Futures doing to promote inclusivity?

A key priority for Yes Futures over the last year has been developing our Diversity and Inclusion strategy, to ensure that we are improving inclusivity for all of the young people on our programmes, as well as our employee and volunteer teams.

To help us to do this, we have established a Diversity and Inclusion working group and joined the Fair Education Alliance’s collective network, ‘Addressing Racial Inequalities in Education Head-On’. By doing so, we hope to improve equality, inclusion and diversity in education by improving our internal practices, and working with other education organisations to contribute to sustainable, long-lasting change throughout the education sector. You can read more about our commitment to change here.

We recognise that, while we have made progress, there is still much more to be done, and it's vital that the action we take is sustained and meaningful. Our team are committed to doing all that we can to challenge our own biases, educate ourselves, and make the future fairer for all young people.

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