The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Aldaine Wynter

Representation in the curriculum: culture, diversity and inclusion

In the third of his series of blog posts, Aldaine Wynter looks at the importance and impact of a diverse curriculum.

In this blog we will look at the following areas in relation to representation in the curriculum:

  • cultural representation
  • embedding diversity into the curriculum
  • creating an inclusive curriculum.

When considering diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, I always refer to three key aims: 

  1. accountability
  2. visibility
  3. action. 

These aims are my own and you may find others that you use that work for you. For me the aims are important as they give me a sense of what to think about at the beginning and the end of setting up a plan. 

Action focuses on and ensures that the initiative in question seeks to make a meaningful impact on the community. Is there a need for the initiative and who seeks to benefit? And ultimately, how do we ensure that a tangible action plan is created as a result? 

Visibility is about what is being presented to the school community. While there will always be elements happening behind the scenes, I believe it is crucial that the work being done can be seen in some way to the school community. Are the students aware of an upcoming change in the curriculum? Do parents know how you intend to celebrate PRIDE month this year? Are teachers aware that you are open to ideas about how to increase awareness of neurodiversity?

Thinking about accountability allows me the opportunity to reflect on the initiative. Accountability is incredibly important as it ensures that we recognise the importance of an outcome. The outcome could be to ensure that the school community is more open, inclusive, and knowledgeable about a certain aspect of DEI. It is about a school and not a single person taking ownership of the success of DEI in your institute. Typically, I reflect each term and at the end of the academic year.    

Cultural representation 

Cultural representation looks to ensure that the curriculum truly reflects the students that we teach. Recent events such as George Floyds murder, the increase in Asian hate rhetoric and the release of Everyone’s Invited to name a few, has further emphasised the need for a more diversity in our curriculum. 

For many students, school will be the first opportunity to be exposed to new and different voices and experiences. A chance to fall in love with new authors. To learn about composers and directors on the cutting edge of theatre. To have the lives of ancient civilisations brought to life in the classroom and inspire a lifetime of curiosity.

So, what can we do as teachers? It is important to reflect on what is being presented to students. Auditing our curriculum and seeing where we can make changes that would make the topics presented more accessible is a start. 

When we think of a diverse and cultural representative curriculum, it is easy to think about how this can be seen in English and humanities. In fact, when I started working with curriculum leaders on our racial literacy curriculum, I initially focused on English, humanities and drama. 

Cultural representation looks to ensure that the curriculum truly reflects the students that we teach 

Wondering where to start?

If you want to look at increasing black history and voices in your curriculum, The Black Curriculum seeks to reimagine the future of education through black British history. They have a great range of learning resources to support the diversification of a range of subjects including history, English, law, tutor time and quite a few others. The Black Curriculum also offer CPD and workshop opportunities for schools. They have worked with a huge range of schools and are a great tool for schools wanting to know where to start. Recently, the British Museum in partnership with the Royal African Society ran a free CPD session for teachers on African Kingdoms. So be sure to sign up to see any future events that they may hold.

Thinking of an LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum, Stonewall have created guides for secondary and primary schools. With language around LGBTQ+ continually important, the importance of literacy is important. The guides are a good place to start for a range of subjects including art, music, computing, languages and PE. The guidance includes helpful child-friendly glossary as well as a glossary for teachers.

For ideas to embed human rights, Amnesty International have great resources for schools. Amnesty International offer free online courses for educators, from 15 minutes to 15 hours, as well as a range of learning resources and an up-to-date blog for educators. 

For many students, school will be the first opportunity to be exposed to new and different voices and experiences

We were lucky enough to get Peter Wright’s book, Mathematics: bringing citizenship to life in the maths classroom, while it was being offered for free by Amnesty International. Peter Wright also has a book for maths teachers wanting to integrate social justice in KS3 and KS4 maths lessons.

For the scientists among us you do not need to go far to see articles that highlight the importance of diversity in STEM. 

The resources do well to allow us as teachers to think about diversifying our curriculum beyond English, drama, and the humanities. ADHARA Education gives five easy steps to support science teachers thinking about making changes to their curriculums.

  1. Role models 
  2. Check your pronouns and your names 
  3. Challenge stereotypes 
  4. Problematic people 
  5. Sensitivity around language 

Embedded, not an after thought 

When creating my school’s inclusive curriculum, it was important that the curriculum was a long-term effort to ensure a culture of reflection with regards to embedding inclusion into the curriculum. It is important to note that my school is an IB World School and as such there is far more flexibility when building and changing the curriculum. 

Every year our classes may change and the faces that look back at us may look different. But if we are willing to push through and work to ensure that the curriculum that we present to our students reflects them, we can be assured that our students will always feel seen in the work we teach and heard in the stories we tell. 

 
 

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