Decolonising the Curriculum

Holy Family are in a process of change. We are changing what and how we teach in an attempt to decolonise our curriculum.

What is a ‘colonised’ curriculum?

Western domination in the last few hundered years has had the effect of limiting what counts as ‘true’ knowledge, whose knowledge is recognised, what schools teach and how they teach it. Most school subjects therefore give disproportionate importance to the experiences, concerns and achievements of the historically already powerful.  Many of our students are therefore taught to be disempowered on the basis of inherent biases related to race, religion, gender, disability, sexuality and class.

Some examples:

  • English: Some English GCSE courses have only 5% of texts represented by ethnic minority and non-Western authors
  • Politics A-Level: 94% of the political thinkers originally named in the national curriculum were men
  • Music A-Level: Edexcel Music originally had 0 women works out of 63 composers
  • Maths: the origin of many mathematical discoveries is misrepresented. Did you know that Pythagoras Theorem has its origins in Old Babylonia, not Ancient Greece?
  • History: there is a lack of agency given to black and Jewish people in topics such as slavery or the Holocaust

(Part of) the solution:

If knowledge is marked by those historically already empowered, then perhaps we need to do more to decolonise. That is to build an inclusive curriculum (what we teach) and make adjustments to our pedagogy (how we teach) that reflects the diversity of students.

Holy Family is building a decolonised curriculum through 4 facets

  1. Language e.g. could we do more to challenge and explore the racialised stigmatisation of different names, places and languages that are often stereotyped as inferior.
  2. Role Model e.g. could we highlight and normalise the contributions of a diverse range of role models including those from a non-Western background?
  3. Curriculum e.g. could we do more to challenge and unpack the typical stories of Britain’s past and present with the aim of interweaving and enriching the untold stories of Britain’s minority and disenfranchised members?
  4. Pedagogy (How we teach) e.g. could we teach material in a way which allows students to make connections to their existing knowledge and experiences?

Want to know more? Want to get involved?

We would value your comments, opinions and questions. A truly decolonised curriculum is one that parents feel does justice to the needs of their children.

Contact Mr E Shah: