What is Black History Month UK and why is it celebrated?
Black History Month in the UK honours the history, arts, and culture of black people in the United Kingdom. White British history is well-known, and education on it is widespread, while black British history is underreported and underrepresented. Every year, devoting a month to it helps to restore that balance, and it also helps us all learn more about our shared history as Britons.
A time to celebrate and learn about the achievements of Black Britons throughout history. BHM is an opportunity to ensure that all young people, no matter their background, learn about Black history.
Teaching Black history in schools
It is critical for teachers to ensure that their students understand what Black History Month is and why it is observed. It’s a great time for Embracing Black History Month in the classroom. While explaining this to youngsters may appear simple, there is a lot for young learners to process and understand.
Inclusivity and diversity are one of the most important lessons you can teach your children, since it will help them learn that variety in their society and the larger world is something to be appreciated. Use resources which include Black people and their stories to help with this.
Black History & the Curriculum
There are various ways that you can weave Black History into the curriculum for history. The curriculum supports children learning about Black History all year round. Black History should be a focus in history lessons during the whole year so that pupils can gain a diverse knowledge of history. To help you achieve this, we have sourced ways to include the history curriculum in Black History lessons from Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 2.
Learning for KS1 and 2
For younger children in Years 1 and 2, a simple, clear method to teaching about Black History Month UK is best. An easy talk about why it’s important to see individuals of various skin tones and appearances in books, TV shows, and films will get kids thinking about why minority ethnic groups, such as Black British people, should be visible.
In Key Stage 1, the curriculum requires key historical events to be learnt beyond or within pupils’ lifetimes. A great way to do this for younger children to understand easier is through Black historical figures such as Mary Seacole, Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela. To aid with this learning, you could use our Windrush poster which has a little information on Black historical figures before, during and after that time as a visual aid for pupils.
The curriculum for Key Stage 2 requires studying a non-European society that provides a contrast to British history. This can broaden children’s knowledge past Britain and understand other cultures and their history. An example you could focus on is the Haitian Revolution, where formerly enslaved Africans overcame the British, Spanish and Napoleonic French armies. From this, the first independent Black republic in the Americas was established.
Simple ways to talk about why Black History Month is celebrated
- It’s great to see people who resemble us in books, films, and television shows
- Everyone is unique in their own community, so it’s good to see that diversity
- Black History Month is important because it is a period when we learn about black people in the United Kingdom, who are underrepresented.
Challenging stereotypes and racism
In a school with a wide mix of cultures, backgrounds and faiths, children often move beyond stereotypical assumptions about race. At a young age children can learn that they can be friends with and learn alongside others regardless of diversity.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Looking for inclusive and inspiring books to share with or recommend to your class? Reading to your class is a wonderful, shared experience, and it’s an excellent opportunity to introduce young children to black history in a fun way. Puffin have lists of books for teaching Black history together with a list of empowering stories.
Black History Month can be a great opportunity for teachers to make a mindful decision to develop their curriculum throughout the academic year.
Every school will be at a different point with its curriculum development, and it is important that we explore how we teach history in order to integrate Black history along the way.
*Updated on 5/10/2023*