Black History Month: How black history is taught in our schools (2024)

Black History Month: How black history is taught in our schools (1)

October is Black History Month in the UK and a time to celebrate the contribution black people have made over the centuries in shaping thedynamic and diverse country we have today.

Black History Month is about celebratingand sharing knowledge; celebrating the contribution black people have made tofreedoms, our culture and our society– from books, music to art,with authorssuch as Malorie Blackman, musicianssuch as Arlo Parks, and scientists such as Maggie Aderin-Poco*ck, there are many great individuals to celebrate.

This year’s theme is ‘Sharing Journeys’, exploring the lives and stories of the people who came to Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries and helped lay the foundations of today’s diverse society, such as Roy Hackett, a key figure in the Bristol Bus Boycott.

From Roman times onwards,black people have beenan integralpart of Britain, and theNational Curriculumsupports teaching about their contribution.

One of the key aims of the history curriculum is to know and understand the history of these islands as a coherent, chronological narrative, from the earliest times to the present day. This includes how people’s lives have shaped this nation and how Britain has influenced and been influenced by the wider world, which helps build an understanding of a shared British and world history.

We want all pupils to benefit from a high quality and diverse history curriculum, which is why we are developing a Model History Curriculum for publication to be published 2024. The Department established an expert panel earlier this year to take this work forward.

Although Black History Month only happens once a year, the teaching of blackhistory doesn’t begin and end there. The curriculum supports children learning about it all year round.

Here we look at a number of ways that black history can be taught in schools using the national curriculum for history from Key Stages 1 to 3, and the subject content requirements for history GCSE at Key Stage 4.

  • AtKey Stage 1the curriculum requires key historical events within or beyond living memory to be taught. This could include teaching about the lives of key black historical figures such as Mary Seacole and Rosa Parks, both of whom are used as examples in the Programmes of Study.

The inter-connection that these Islands had with the wider world is an important aspect of teaching in Key Stage 2 and 3, additionally:

  • AtKey Stage 2 thecurriculum requires the study of a non-European society that provides contrasts with British history, for example Benin (West Africa) from 900-1300 AD.
  • At Key Stage 3there is a statutory requirement to explore ideas, political power, industry and empire in Britain between 1745-1901. This is so that every child has an understanding of the history of Empire and its consequences. Teachers could, for example, look at Britain’s transatlantic slave trade – its effects and its eventual abolition – including the successful slave-led rebellions, such as the Haitian Revolution, that eventually led to the abolition of slavery. In the UK, this could include the role played by slaves and former slaves such Olaudah Equiano as well as the Somerset Ruling. This Key Stage also requires the study of an aspect of British history that consolidates and extends pupils’ chronological knowledge from before 1066. One of the suggested topics is to look at the impact of the migration of people to, from and within the British Isles.
  • AtKey Stage 4pupils should develop and extend their knowledge and understanding of specified key events, periods and societies in local, British, and wider world history which takes in the wide diversity of human experience. Such events can include the world wars and the impact of migration on Britain. There is scope to teach black history within these events and within the broader requirements of the GCSE subject specification.

As part of a broad and balanced curriculum, pupils should be taught about different societies, and how different groups have contributed to the development of Britain, including the voices and experience of black people.

There are many resources schools and parents can use to support teaching black history all-year round, including during Black History Month.

We have suggested some useful sites below:

  • The subject association for history, theHistorical Association, has many black history resources availableincluding those linked to in their annual Black History Month news story.
  • BBC Bitesize – Resources relevant to Black History Month.
  • National Archives – ‘World Through a Lens’, photos from over 100 years history, including Africa and the Americas. Many of these could be used as the stimulus for lessons in black history.
  • Oak National Academy – Has a selection of black history resources available for both English and history lessons including on the resistance to slavery in Jamaica in the 19th century and on the Windrush.
  • Bristol Museums and BBC Teach provide resources on the Bristol Bus Boycott.
  • The Royal Mint worked with the West India Committee to create a black British history pack titled ‘Diversity Built Britain’, with resources for schools that are aimed at illuminating stories and accounts of important and inspirational Black people that have lived, worked and studied in the UK.

Further resources are listed in our Black History Month post from 2021.

Black History Month: How black history is taught in our schools (2024)


How do you teach Black history to students? ›

Here are resources to help teach students about the significant events and people in African-American history in the United States:
  1. Civil Rights Movement Virtual Learning Journey. ...
  2. Civil Rights Video Collection from Georgia Stories. ...
  3. Jazz. ...
  4. The March on Washington. ...
  5. The History of Hip-Hop.
Jan 31, 2024

Do they teach Black history in schools? ›

Though not all states require in-depth Black history instruction, some have come under fire for their efforts. Florida state education leaders drew public ire when approving changes to the state's Black history instructional standards that state leaders including DeSantis defended as true history.

Why is it important for students to learn about Black History Month? ›

Finally, African American history is important because it encourages better citizenship. It emphasizes the ties that bind together individuals, communities, and generations. It illuminates the struggles to redefine and expand constitutional and human rights, both for Black and non-Black people.

How can Black history be incorporated into the curriculum? ›

The simplest way to diversify the curriculum is by incorporating prominent black figures and their contributions in various disciplines. Faculty can also fuse their curriculum with readings, case studies, or digital resources about relevant historical content made by black creators.

What is the best way to teach Black History Month? ›

Below are some tips to help educators improve the way they teach Black History — in February and all year long.
  • Teach through Black voices. Don't teach about Black history — teach through it, King says. ...
  • Highlight the achievements of Black people. ...
  • Center Black perspectives. ...
  • Honor Black humanity.

What do schools teach about Black history? ›

“Those topics usually center on slavery, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement,” King says. He says it's important to note that Black history is not just simply about racial history; Black history and racial history are linked and salient concepts of Black history emerge through racial history.

How much Black history is taught in schools? ›

Yet, despite teachers' enthu- siasm about teaching Black history, the study surmised that generally only 1 to 2 lessons or 8–9 percent of total class time is devoted to Black history in U.S. history classrooms.

What states require teaching Black history? ›

Just 12 states (Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington) have Black history mandates for K-12 public schools.

Should Black History Month be taught in schools? ›

Black history is important for all students because most of the things that happened in history are still happening today. We think of slavery as a thing of the past, but mass incarceration and its gateway, the school to prison pipeline, are the new slavery.

How do you explain Black History Month to students? ›

Black History Month means the appreciation and acknowledgement of Blackness and how it permeates all aspects of society. It's the recognition of people and a culture that transcends the racist and imperial formations of the United States. It is a celebration of Black men, women, nonbinary, trans, disabled folx.

What makes Black History Month important? ›

Black History Month was created to focus attention on the contributions of African Americans to the United States. It honors all Black people from all periods of U.S. history, from the enslaved people first brought over from Africa in the early 17th century to African Americans living in the United States today.

How teaching local Black history can empower students? ›

Teaching Black history provides opportunities for all students to celebrate the contributions of African Americans, to develop criticality, empathy, and empowerment through understanding. It is a call for social justice.

How can the education system do a better job of teaching Black history? ›

In order to help solve the problem, teachers could attend professional development trainings, work to promote Black perspectives, and develop curriculums that explore multiple themes within Black history, King advised. Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

How can we contribute to Black history? ›

This list offers a few ways to delve deeper into Black history and support a more equitable future.
  1. Start by Learning About Black History Month. ...
  2. Explore Podcasts. ...
  3. Watch Films about Black History. ...
  4. Educate Children. ...
  5. Get Involved. ...
  6. Dismantle Racism in Your Organization. ...
  7. Discuss What You've Learned.
Feb 15, 2023

How do you explain Black history to children? ›

Talk about the positives!

Remember–Black History is more than just hardship! Talk about the amazing contributions they have made to society as a whole. A great place to start is to teach your kids about the impact of Black music, Black scientists and inventors, activists, and any other important cultural contributions.

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