Former head boy at the Coopers Coburn school Alex Defroand is urging the Upminster school to call for the decolonising of the national curriculum.
650 students and alumni have signed an open letter to the leadership of The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School, urging the school to call for a decolonised national British curriculum.
Following worldwide protests after the death of George Floyd, a nationwide campaign to ‘decolonise the curriculum’ is gaining traction across the UK. Open letters have been sent to dozens of schools around the country and a petition to make colonialism and slavery a compulsory part of the national curriculum received 200,000 signatures within 48 hours.
A local campaign leader Alex Defroand presented the letter to the Coopers’ Coborn leadership on Friday 12th June. The campaign has set out a list of core actions that the school can take to proactively push for national reform and become a national standard-bearer for progressive, anti-racist education. The school committed to review these actions.
The campaign is urging the school to publicly advocate forchanging the national curriculum to make colonialism and slavery a compulsory component of the syllabus and to increase the representation of Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAME) voices across all subject areas. The letter also urges the school to issue a statement condemning racism and recognising schools’ responsibility to proactively tackle racial discrimination in wider society, amongst other actions.
In the letter it criticises the Governments current compulsory curriculum requirements for providing an “overwhelmingly white, western and imperial view” of history that is leaving pupils “ignorant” to the history of racism and the racial injustices that BAME people have faced and continue to encounter.
Nationwide research published last week by Impact of Omission has revealed that while 72.2% of respondents learned about The Great Fire of London, only 7% learned about Britain’s colonisation of Africa.
Former Head Boy and representative of the students Alex Defroand, said:
“The government’s current national curriculum requirements read like a one-sided ‘highlights reel’ of white British achievements.
“By failing to ensure every student receives a full and honest education on the realities of the British Empire, young peopleacross the UK are not being equipped with the tools to understand why racism continues to persist in this country.
“Hundreds of current and former students believe high-profile schools like Coopers’ have a responsibility to use its platform to drive change nationally. Silence amounts to upholding a system that is fundamentally failing millions of students.
“Through taking the concrete steps outlined in the letter, Coopers’ can become a national leader in anti-racisteducation. We hope the school’s governors can support a proactive and public approach to advocating for reform nationally.”
In response to this The Coopers’ Company and Coburn School have issued the following statement:
“The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School takes diversity and inclusion extremely seriously and our Head Teacher has met with the key signatory of the petition to discuss the issues raised. We fully understand and appreciate the concerns although note that there are a number of out of date and inaccurate statements in the petition regarding our curriculum.
“Coopers Coborn is already committed to sustaining a positive and supportive environment where individuals are equally valued and respected. We proactively appointed a Diversity Coordinator in September 2018 and a number of new initiatives have been implemented since then to reflect our commitment. Our immediate focus, during this extremely challenging time, has to be on our strategy for reopening the school in the coming days, supporting students and keeping everyone safe. However, we will make time to review the petition in full, listen to feedback and continue to improve where necessary. “