Today, the Petitions Committee took its first evidence session on black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum.
We are holding the sessions because hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions calling on the Government to diversify the school curriculum to include a greater range of perspectives and voices. As there are a number of Commons Committees with an interest in this area, the evidence sessions are being held jointly with the Women and Equalities Committee (of which I am also a Member) and the Education Committee.
This first session was first deep dive into the issues raised by the petitions, including adding colonial and BAME history and also classes specifically on diversity and racism.
Witnesses today included petition creators Esmie Jikiemi-Pearson, Nell Bevan, Cynthia Muthoni, and Yacoub Yasin. We were also joined by Eleshea Williams, Media and Communications Manager for The Black Curriculum; Rosamund McNeil, Assistant General Secretary at the National Education Union; Dr Katharine Burn, Deputy President, of the Historical Association; and Prof Rhiannon Turner, Professor of Social Psychology at Queen's University Belfast.
I was particularly interested to focus on the Channel 4 documentary that aired earlier in the year - "The School That Tried To End Racism" - as it was filmed at a school in our borough, Glenthorne High School. The documentary showed that students can show unconscious bias even in a school atmosphere which is largely positive and where there is strong racial diversity, and I was interested to hear what aspects beyond just the curriculum - for instance diversity of teaching staff - are important in tackling these issues.
You can watch the entire evidence session here, or watch my exchange on Glenthorne, visible representation across all areas of life, and the wider curriculum above.