Towards an Anti-Racist Curriculum Tower Hamlets, Year 2
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Towards an Anti-Racist Curriculum Tower Hamlets, Year 2

Bringing Diverse Stories and History into the Classroom

As part of Tower Hamlets Council’s Tackling Race Inequalities Plan, Global Learning London is currently working with 25 schools across Tower Hamlets through training, reflections, and conversations to develop and deepen their anti-racist knowledge and commitment.

We are in the second year of delivery and are supporting schools through whole school training, wellbeing sessions for PoC, senior leadership team surgeries, as well as the development of an Anti-Racist Educators Network. This network attends additional training such as Philosophy for Children and termly workshops. One of the key areas of our work has been to initiate conversations about our colonial history and how this continues to impact the way racism manifests in the UK today.

We are at the very early stages of developing the anti-racist curriculum at our school. We had our first INSET day in January and found that to be enormously helpful in fuelling staff wide interest in all different aspects of the school and its function. The INSET day was very well delivered, and the facilitators were skilled in creating a space where staff felt able to share emerging ideas and thoughts. The training day fostered an appetite for staff to want to become better informed so that has contributed to a noticeable conversation around the school, of people sharing what they have read. We have decided to facilitate a cross team working party to consider the various angles that we can approach this work from using the Diamond 9 activity from the training to inform our planning. We strongly feel that enough interest has been generated to keep this agenda firmly on the table going forward.

Executive Headteacher, St Luke’s C.E. Primary School

It is crucial that as educators we gain knowledge of history and what it means to be an ally. This then helps to see where and how we can bring an anti-racist lens into our lessons and teaching.

It also ensures that our children are supported by learning a more diverse and relevant curriculum, and critical thinking, emotional intelligence and social justice values are developed in both educators and students.

We have embarked on the TARC programme to support our teachers, regardless of the role you hold in school, to have a space to truly reflect, question, learn and take responsibility for our own personal and deeply rooted views. Our anti-racist journey will support our children to become educated citizens who are prepared to live and thrive in culturally and ethnically diverse modern Britain.

SLT Member, Harbinger Primary School

Through knowledge of wider history but more specifically the history of racism and violence, which was met by allyship and activism in Tower Hamlets- we recognise the gaps in our teaching and the stories and topics we study, and we also better understand the experiences of the communities we serve.

I am glad that there is an avenue for schools to have transparent, open conversations about racism. It is humbling to see schools take the first step in acknowledging the deficiencies in our curriculum and the way racism is reported, taught, and integrated into our pedagogy. As someone who was born and raised in Tower Hamlets, I think it is vital our children learn about the history of Tower Hamlets and what the earlier generations experienced with regards to racism. When I speak to people of colour from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and 00’s, it is clear that there is a level of hurt and trauma that has not been addressed. This project has opened a path for schools to take a forensic look at our curriculum and see how we could address the damage that has been done to our communities.  As a Primary School teacher working in Tower Hamlets, this project has allowed me to look at different ways in which schools throughout the borough could cultivate an anti-racist approach. From holding family workshops that allow families to share their experiences with racism, engaging with local interfaith groups and youth clubs, and bringing in local activists to talk to our children. As teachers we could start looking at how we could decolonise our curriculum, investing in books that promote diversity, holding whole school assemblies to educate our children on what the earlier generations experienced and adapting our History, Geography and PSHE curriculum. I believe this project could be the catalyst for change for all schools within our borough.

Year 2 Teacher, Halley Primary School

With the upcoming 75-year anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush, there is an opportunity to share stories of Britain’s colonial history with our children. The most recent article in Beyond the Secret Garden by Darren Chetty and Karen Sands-O’Connor discusses children’s books on Windrush and the Indian Partition. This series of articles in Books for Keeps examines representation and voice in children’s literature.

Having greater diversity and more representation in stories, images and activities supports our children’s learning and development, as they will feel seen in this multicultural city.  Head of the Tower Hamlets Schools Library Services, Gillian Harris puts it perfectly Books are a mirror, reflecting diversity in our society so that children can find themselves in the books they read as well as a window that looks outwards allowing young readers to experience different cultures from their own.”

Global Learning London has been commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council to continue Towards an Anti-Racist Curriculum for a third year. We continue to learn and grow and find the best ways to work with our schools based on feedback from schools and educators – which is why we will be introducing several new anti-racist training opportunities and support for schools involved.

If your school is in Tower Hamlets, and interested in becoming a part of this project or if you would like to continue your anti-racist journey please contact Triny Diaz, Operations Manager at Global Learning London.
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