BSB Observes Black History Month

At BSB, we are a diverse learning community, embracing over 60 nationalities. We are a community who believes in mutual understanding and respect, compassion and empathy, fairness and inclusivity. We actively celebrate and encourage diversity and we believe in accountability for all.

As a caring, learning community, we believe that change begins with education, so educate we must. After the truly saddening events in the United States in June, we committed to review our curriculum and ensure a greater focus on opportunities to explore diversity and encourage our pupils to question the events of the past, the attitudes of today, and to be at the forefront of change for the future.

As an example of this commitment, our Secondary and Pre-University Heads of English and History tell us how their departments observed Black History Month in October.

 

Ms Eloise Duarte, Head of English, Secondary and Pre-University

“Members of the English Department are increasingly aware of the need to study literature from writers of a wide variety of backgrounds. Unfortunately, we are often guided by the exam specifications in regards to the texts we study. However, we always endeavour to choose exciting and accessible authors from different ethnic backgrounds and literature which considers characters from every culture.

This year, we have adapted our schemes of work at KS3 to include a range of racially and ethnically diverse writers of both poetry and prose. More attention has also been paid to diverse characters in the texts studied at IGCSE. October was Black History Month and as such the English Department taught lessons designed to extend students’ understanding of important events and issues faced by minority groups.

For example, Year 10 studied the fate of Caribbean soldiers during World War II, writing newspaper articles about how vital it is that all heroes are remembered and celebrated. Meanwhile, Year 11 analysed the plight of Tituba, a slave in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Many chose to write diary entries from her perspective, focussing on how she was victimised in the Puritan society of Salem.

The English Department is excited to continue to promote diverse works at KS3 and KS5; Year 9 will soon begin a module on the poetry of Maya Angelou and Year 12 will be studying a range of diverse literature in the unseen section of their A Level.”

 

Mr Roderick Kenny, Head of History, Secondary and Pre-University

“The History Department, like much of the rest of the world, has taken time to reflect on the resurfacing of issues surrounding race relations. 2020 has been a turbulent year in so many ways, but it has been important, where safe and possible, not to let the implications of Covid-19 impede the need for progress in other areas. History is a subject reflective by nature, but this does not make it immune from myopically sliding into a comfortable status quo.

This year, to redress these potential imbalances, we have endeavoured to inject some thought and debate both inside and outside the curriculum. During Black History Month in October, KS3 and KS4 History lessons began with a ‘Quote of the Day’, getting students to briefly reflect on the thoughts of prominent historical or contemporary black figures, starting with Dr Mae Jemison – the first black female astronaut: “Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.” We also added an extra lesson into our Year 8 curriculum, exploring diversity in Tudor England, looking at Miranda Kaufmann’s 2017 book, Black Tudors: The Untold Story. In Year 9 we have adapted the curriculum so that in the summer term students will spend a series of lessons learning about the civil rights movement.

Lastly, we delivered an assembly to each year group (7-13), explaining the causes, aims and impact of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some of our students hear or see only certain aspects – occasionally negative – related to this movement, and we felt it important to give a more comprehensive overview so that students have a greater awareness of such a significant, topical issue.”