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Star calls for mandatory Black history in schools

Troy Deeney takes a knee prior to the English Premier League football match between Watford and Norwich City © Getty

Is Troy Deeney right? The striker – a prominent anti-racism campaigner – says the change is needed to inform, identify and combat discriminatory stereotypes from an early age.  Troy struggled at school. As a mixed-race pupil, he was “neither White enough to fit in with the White kids or Black enough to fit in with the Black kids”. At 15, he was expelled.  Today, Troy Deeney is a professional footballer and an anti-racism campaigner. Yet he still receives racist abuse on social media every day.  Now, he wants to change how Black history is taught in schools. On Tuesday, the striker launched a petition calling for the teaching of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) history and experiences to be made mandatory in all British schools.  “I believe the current system is failing children from ethnic minorities,” Deeney wrote in an open letter to UK education secretary Nadhim Zahawi.  When Deeney was at school in Birmingham, his class watched a US television series about slavery. It was not enough, he says. “There was no one I heard about in lessons who made me think I could be successful.” Today, schools in England can choose which topics to teach in lessons. But a survey of British teachers found that only 12% feel “empowered” to teach optional topics such as colonialism, migration and identity.  Deeney is not the only one calling for change. Historian David Olusoga says schools must teach the “uncomfortable” parts of British history.  But not everyone agrees that the curriculum needs changing. UK government spokespeople insist that pupils already have the opportunity to learn about BAME figures. Some say it would be impossible for schools to teach every pupil about their cultural history. And others say changes to the curriculum could make divisions worse.  Deeney is not put off by criticism. He believes that true change in society must always begin in schools. Is Troy Deeney right? Striking out  Yes: Making BAME experiences mandatory teaching would inspire ethnic minority pupils and dispel harmful stereotypes. No: It is impossible to learn everything. Teachers already have the option to include lessons on BAME figures, but they should not be forced to do so.  Or… The vast majority of teachers are unprepared to teach topics such as colonialism and identity. Schools need more resources and guidance on BAME topics.   KeywordsMandatory - Compulsory.

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