Footballer Troy Deeney makes a passionate plea for more mainstream teaching of black, Asian and minority ethnic experiences by schools in England, to help tackle racism and give children ‘a balanced and inclusive understanding’ of Britain .
In an open letter to Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, Deeney said he was frustrated with the lack of progress in the fight against racism in the two years since the killing of George Floyd in the United States. United, saying a “strange calm” had ended public opinion. debate.
The Birmingham City striker said he still receives ‘vile racist abuse on social media and, at times, in public’, and with three children in the education system he felt an urgent need for schools to include black, Asian and minority ethnic experiences in their curriculum.
“I’ve seen more and more how important it is for my kids to be able to see themselves represented in what they’re being taught and to learn about the contribution and backgrounds of people like them,” Deeney said. “The importance of education at an early age in informing identity and combating racist beliefs and stereotypes cannot be underestimated.”
Deeney’s letter follows the success of England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in changing government policy. In 2020 and 2021, Rashford’s public interventions and an outpouring of support led the government to reverse its decision not to provide food to children eligible for free school meals during school holidays amid the Covid pandemic.
Deeney, who signed for Birmingham City this season after playing nearly 400 games for Watford, is starting an online petition. He commissioned research from polling firm YouGov into teacher attitudes to refute claims that the National Curriculum in England already contains a large ethnic representation of blacks and minorities.
The survey of 1,000 secondary and primary teachers, conducted this month, found that only 12% felt empowered to teach ‘optional’ black-related topics such as colonialism, migration and identity before competing elective subjects, while 75% said they were unaware that resources for teaching cultural diversity across the curriculum were available.
It found that 54% of teachers thought the school system or national curriculum was racially biased, rising to 93% among ethnic minority teachers.
“My only experience of black history or black culture was through food or music that I experienced at home, while at school I felt detached. Not only was I not told about positive role models who looked like me, but one teacher even told me I would be dead at 25,” Deeney said.
He was expelled from school at the age of 15 and left without any qualifications. Later, as a professional footballer, he studied and passed GCSEs in English, Maths and Science.
“As my mother always tells me, you can’t understand where you’re going if you don’t understand where you’re coming from. Let it be too late for my generation, we need to pave the way for more lasting change for our children, because I think the current system is failing ethnic minority children,” Deeney said.
In response, a Department of Education spokesperson said the current curriculum provides students with the opportunity to study prominent figures from black and ethnic minorities and the contributions they have made to the nation.
“Schools play a crucial role in helping young people understand the world around them and their place in it. We continue to be informed by the work of committed individuals and groups when it comes to supporting the teaching of Black and minority ethnic history,” the spokesperson said.