Equality in the curriculum
“We believe in a world where everyone should be treated with respect, fairness and equity and as educators, we will actively work to combat all forms of racism that stand in the way of this belief.
We will educate our children and young people to recognise and reject racism and provide a safe environment for them to speak about and speak out against injustice.”
Newham pledge, written by Lorna Jackson, Headteacher.
Maryland leads on equality and diversity work within the local authority. The Equality Team regularly trains other schools on unconscious bias, racial literacy and how to embed equality within the curriculum. The school has hosted many visits from schools to showcase curriculum innovation. The school holds a well-respected position within Newham for teaching anti-racism and equality, often being consulted on local authority concerns such as their approach to street names, culture and art, body image and the HAES approach.
The equality team has supported local schools in how they evaluate their curriculum to ensure equality and diversity are interwoven as a golden thread through the school.
The headteacher and the equality team support schools across London and have had visits from schools nationally. The headteacher is regularly invited as a keynote speaker on equality and diversity at local authority and national conferences.
Our intention is
Pupils have a global perspective and are well prepared for life in modern Britain. It is very important that our pupils see themselves represented in what they learn and the school itself so that equality and antiracism are seamlessly interwoven into the curriculum. A recent staff survey, teachers voted that the school was ‘very good’ responses was promoting racial harmony
How do we do this?
- Maryland School Values
Teamwork, Resilience, Respect, Ambition, Courage, Kindness
Assemblies: Our assembly programme written for year R to year 6 is built around our six values. They are designed to intertwine the protected characteristics of the Equality policy, for example there are awareness assemblies on:
Identity Justice Fairness Equality Equity Inclusion Diversity Migration Respect Skin tone Hair discrimination Peace Honesty
Other white background:
Other ethnic background:
2. The curriculum
All postholders have reviewed their curriculum and the statutory requirements of the national curriculum to ensure that it is broad and balanced. This audit helped us to review the curriculum in line with schools’ statutory duties under the Equality Act 2010.
Some examples of equality and diversity in the Maryland curriculum:
Throughout our curriculum we inspire our school through role models, people who look and sound like them who through hard work and sacrifice not through luck have made it.
- In year 6, our summer geography topic is ‘Are we damaging our world?’. We are even more aware of the efforts that Swedish environmentalist activist Greta Thunberg in challenging world leaders to take immediate action to halt the climate crisis
- Christine Ohourugu, a Newham born Olympic athlete visited our school. She spoke in an assembly about the determination that was needed to compete at the highest level.
- In reception, one of our art projects is based around her, we produce a flag which represents her Nigerian heritage
- In year 5 history we look at the impact the Windrush generation has had on our society including the challenges they faces
- In geography we show our children two maps showing the different perspectives, the Mercator projection and the Peters-Gall projection, we pose questions to our children to query why certain landforms might be displayed larger than their actual size.
- In Art and Design we look at Ceija Stojka, an Eastern European artist and compare their design to LS Lowry and Clementine Hunter in Year 1. In Year 2, we investigate bread and recipes from Eastern Europe.
- Marcus Rashford, an English professional football player has shown that through his courage to stand up for what he believes in, significant changes can be made in society. We learnt about the inspiring work that he has carried out, in our assemblies, to ensure that food poverty becomes a thing of the past.
- Every year, the children in year 6 are given the opportunity to run for the position of head boy and head girl. The hustings follow a democratic vote.
- It is a chance for the candidates to be inspired by female figures such as American Kamala Harris who became the first African-Asian female to hold the position of vice president of the United States of America.
- We always like to highlight and celebrate our local community. Zaha Hadid – a British – Iraqi architect designed the Aquatic Centre for the London Olympics in 2012. Year 6 have been swimming there as part of the PE curriculum. Our collaborative artwork in the infant hall celebrates the diversity of the local area.
- In year 5, we look into the origins of masks and their use. Trinidad and Tobago-born journalist Claudia Jones was responsible for the start of the Notting Hill carnival in which people celebrate their diversity through brightly coloured costumes and headdresses. She decided to establish a carnival to celebrate solidarity and strength in the Caribbean communities in the 1960s. This links to the history unit on Windrush
- In year 3, we look at the life of South African, Nelson Mandela. We learn that he showed great courage, determination and strength for both his country and justice. For our artwork, we use Ndebele patterns in honour of his love for gardening. When Mandela was in prison he would grow tomatoes, onions and spinach, which, every
- Friday, the wardens would combine with meat to make a stew. He would always share his stew with the wardens
- As part of RE and out study of the faiths and beliefs in our community, we study Buddhism and look at the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama. He was exiled from India and since 1959 he has been an advocate for peace and freedom for humanity. In 1989, he was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his non-violent struggle to gain freedom for the Tibetan people. He has also been recognised for his concerns on global environmental problems.
- Women and their families.
- Nature’s garden is something that we treasure in our school and realise that we are fortunate to have this space. Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan born environmentalist has fought to promote green belt areas in Kenya and has managed to plant over 45 million trees across Kenya to combat deforestation. This has also helped provide income for women and their families. We have assemblies about her and her inspirational work.
- Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist is an inspiration to us all. She was the youngest winner of the Nobel peace prize. In assemblies we discuss how through adversity she has still pursued her vision of education for all girls in Pakistan and later worldwide. In year 6, our children study the book Suffragettes: The battle for equality where they learn about a significant social turning point and its impact on today, including Malala’s work.
- In English, year 5 study the book ‘Hidden Figures’. We learn about Katherine Johnson, an American mathematician whose work at NASA was critical and together with teamwork and resilience, the group of women she worked with were successful in pioneering the use of computers for space exploration.
- In PE, we embed international sporting role models so children can see what excellence looks like. For example Emma Raducanu and her philosophy and perseverance is used to inspire children in assembly and when they learn to play tennis.
- As a school, we integrate the HAES approach which promotes fitness, healthy diet, stamina and body confidence. In playtimes our sports coach supports games and activities for all children to take part,
- Scientists that reflect our school population are interwoven into the science curriculum, shining a light on their influence and breaking down stereotypes e.g. Marie Curie, Kiara Nirghin, Dr Esther Odekunle, George Washington Carver, Lewis Latimer and Daniella Dos Santos.
- Celebrating cultures that make our community unique also includes ensuring our school lunch menus reflect the communities we serve. Our Windrush day celebrations resulted in the best lunch ever, as commented by our children
The Equality Library is a valuable collection of literature that has been researched and catalogued to enable teachers to find books that address equality, respect for minority groups from all cultures (including refugees and white minorities subjected to discrimination), racism and social justice. These books are both fiction and non-fiction, carefully chosen to help teachers to engage confidently with their students about these topics and help make ‘the uncomfortable, comfortable’. Discussing race and racism, as well as other equality subjects such as those around gender with students can be a complex task, but it is one of the most important things we can do as educators to bring about positive change. It can be difficult to find the appropriate words to effectively explain how constructs, such as race, impact on society or explain why and how racism should be challenged.
The Equality book list is a collection of titles categorised to help target specific aspects of discrimination and to make it easier for teachers to find certain topics they want to discuss at key points in the year in response to international awareness days (i.e, Refugee day, Anti-discrimination day, Remembrance day, Holocaust Memorial day, Multi-faith week, Stephen Lawrence Memorial day, Windrush Memorial day, and so on).
Most of the books listed in the Equality Library have notes at the back to assist with teaching. However, to accompany certain books Teacher Guidance notes have been created to help build teachers skills in educating students and themselves about how to understand equality, to have empathy for others and how to acknowledge and celebrate diversity without causing offence. The guidance helps teachers to develop a sensitive teaching style which is key to ensuring all students feel safe, supported and able to engage with the key messages.
The Teacher Guidance notes support classroom teaching, assemblies, one-to-one discussions, teaching in small groups or targeted sessions for some students. The guidance covers the following areas:
Synopsis Summary of the book
Historical/social links The wider impact that the books are trying to address in society
Sensitivity awareness Awareness of cultural differences and personal issues or experiences that your students may have or are currently facing. Without sensitivity awareness, a lesson can unravel.
Teacher Self-Evaluations Reflective questions to guide educators to monitor their own thought processes.
Pre-reading Activities To discuss what the book is potentially about beforehand with students.
Class Discussion questions To help guide classroom conversations with students, e.g. identifying, “What are the undertones or hidden messages in this book?”.
Post reading activities Further activities that could be done during lesson time to help further understanding and engagement of the subject, including digital media. For example, read the book then watch a related video.
Equality Library categories
The list of categories is not exhaustive. Many titles are cross curricular, e.g. in CPSHE or humanities resources. When used alongside the Teacher’s Guidance, these books become a valuable resource for bold and courageous conversations.
- Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust
- Black, Asian and immigration British history
- Diversity (acknowledging and addressing differences)
- Immigration, refugees and asylum seekers
- Inspirational people
- Other religions suffering discrimination, such as Judaism
- One-to-one/self-esteem bullying (victim care after bullying)
- Travellers and Romani
- Gender equality
- Age discrimination
- Ableism and disability
- Body image
Racial Literacy Conversation Kit
Maryland Primary School has researched and created The Racial Literacy Conversation Kit which has been produced for Education4Change as part of their work for Newham. It is not a finished document but an evolving one, where users can add terms and information that are useful and accepted in their setting. It is a work in progress.
What is racial literacy?
Literacy is the concept of having knowledge and skills in a specific area.
Racial literacy refers to having the knowledge, skills, awareness and dispositions to talk about race and racism. A good starting point is to have a shared understanding of the words and phrases that are appropriate.
The equality team has conducted a research project to investigate racial literacy. The research formed the basis for the racial literacy conversation kit. This kit is designed to help everyone to have courageous conversations to challenge racism.
Why do we need a Racial Literacy Conversation Kit?
Racism causes lifelong trauma and stress that can have a devastating impact on self-esteem and confidence, ultimately affecting opportunity and life chances. As educators we believe it is our duty to tackle the issue of racism in whatever way we can.
Results from a survey conducted amongst colleagues in educational settings (May 2021) has shown that conversations on race and racism are difficult for all parties. Definitions are often unclear and the knowledge of what may offend cause immediate barriers to open conversations. The aim of this conversation kit is to support knowledge, understanding and confidence to have courageous conversations in order to challenge racism – it is about gaining understanding in order to support action.
The survey was shared with four Newham schools with diverse personnel at all levels, TAs, admin, teaching, premises, welfare, supervisory etc.
The aims of the research were to find out:
- The attitudes of staff to having the conversation about race in different settings, for example: workforce, social settings, with family and discussions with young people.
- Whether schools are currently having the conversation and what are the barriers to having bold conversations.
- The words people of different heritage feel comfortable using and the reasons why.
- Which words feel uncomfortable, and which aspects of a conversation people feel less comfortable addressing.
Findings from the survey
- Defining the word ‘race’ proves difficult.
In the survey, educators admitted they found it difficult to define the word ‘race’ without going to the dictionary (apart from a few that responded ‘human race’, meaning a human species). Interestingly, respondents found it much easier to define racism and racist, but not race.
2. The climate of a school is the catalyst for change
The survey results gave a clear indication that schools have to have the correct climate in order to discuss boldly the issue of race and begin to embrace anti-racist education. Inclusion, which has been around for decades, was easier to understand and action than anti-racist education which is a fairly new concept for settings.
- Where a school has embedded anti-racist education, responses were much more positive and secure. Educators showed a desire to speak about race and definitely wanted clarity with knowing which words to use.
- Where a school has not started its journey, the responses showed discomfort and in some cases, dismissed the idea that the conversation was needed.
- Racial literacy training is key in bringing about change
Results showed that groups (from all diverse backgrounds) who had not received training on racial literacy were nervous and felt discomfort in discussing racial issues face-to-face with colleagues, but more comfortable when discussing it via social media or with family and friends not connected to the workplace.
However, 70 educators who had been trained on racial literacy, including racial bias, felt that the training had enabled colleagues to:
- boost their knowledge on a unique subject including the understanding of systemic racism and to recognise the impact of unconscious racial bias
- become more reflective; to understand the complexity of racial issues and opened their eyes to the deep trauma that colleagues may experience
- allowed colleagues of colour to confidently ‘open up’ and tell their stories, explaining their feelings of having to ‘suck up’ situations that they could now confidently bring out into the open.
- Anti-racist education should be mandatory for young people
Educators shared their views that using Racial Literacy confidently with young people was vital in order to bring about change in society and would now encourage the redesign of teaching plans and resources in order to model the confident use of language.
Also schools must actively create a climate where young people are able to understand what racism is and how to deal with it as they enter wider society. It is agreed that it is the educators’ duty to enable young people to embrace being proud of who they are. Hence the redesign of CPSHE lessons now boldly embraces the previously taboo subject of gender, but this provision falls short on addressing race.
- Casual racism and disproportionality needs to be addressed
It was found that other aspects of collegiality should be taken into consideration, e.g. appearance to do with culture such as hair and skin tone, racial banter and also disproportionality of groups within the workplace.
You can read the E4C bulletins below to learn more about this exciting project: