Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

"Delegates at Conference have today held an important debate about the national curriculum and what learning should hope to achieve, after Covid, and in response to what Covid has shown us. Conference has called for a campaign to review the national curriculum to ensure that education embraces culturally inclusive classrooms and reflects all children’s backgrounds. In particular, members called for the inclusion of Black perspectives, history, achievements and contributions in the whole curriculum and not just some aspects of the history curriculum. 

"The NEU will be taking forward work on the curriculum, learning from the review of the curriculum in Wales and responding to the recent announcement by the Government that the history curriculum is to be reviewed. However, such a review may be hindered by this government's reticence with regard to critical debate about topics such as imperialism and empire, racism and climate change, as exemplified by recent constraining and stifling government guidance on political impartiality. The Union will work with key partners such as the Runnymede Trust and educational experts, to collaborate on proposals for the history curriculum review, and on the wider curriculum approach we need to see to give Black children a sense of belonging, self-esteem and respect in every school.  

"We've got to think deeper about what makes students feel connected or unconnected to their learning and hopeful or not about their future. The NEU is determined to help generate a more inclusive curriculum which empowers young people to think critically and empathetically.

"Fewer than 1% of students at GCSE level study a book by a writer of colour. Every young person deserves an educational experience that more fully reflects Britain’s past and the lives of its young people today.

"After Covid, the NEU thinks schools should be able to keep the opportunities they had to innovate, to prioritise the needs of their students, to set their own agenda and to work more closely with parents. Assessment approaches must change so that we’re not labelling children and young people as failures. The curriculum must look to the future, but to do this it must speak accurately about the past in relation to Black British history and about Britain’s colonial past."

ENDS

Note to editors

We are currently in Bournemouth for our Annual Conference (11-14 April), during which time you will receive a higher number of press releases than usual.  

The Conference Press Office can be reached on 07879 480 061. You can also email the press officer at caroline.cowie@neu.org.uk  

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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 

The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.