Diversity and Inclusion in the Primary Knowledge Curriculum.

It has been seven years since the first draft of the KST Primary Knowledge Curriculum was completed. Since that time, from unit to unit, term to term, and year to year, we are continuously learning and reflecting, making amendments and improvements. Our first cohort are about to leave us at the West London Free School Primary, and we couldn’t be prouder of the curious, knowledgeable and compassionate young people they have become. We hope that our curriculum has inspired them to think deeply, helped them develop a love and appreciation of subjects, and given them the knowledge and skills they need to progress in KS3 and beyond.

At the present time, people across the country are discussing the death of George Floyd and the response from the Black Lives Matter movement, reflecting upon racism and inequality in society. Ensuring our curriculum is diverse and inclusive has always been a priority for us at the Knowledge Schools Trust. We strive to ensure our curriculum has a balanced representation of disability, faith, class, gender, culture, heritage and race. Many of the topics that people are suggesting schools should teach, such as the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the British Empire, are already firmly established in our curriculum; however, we still believe that we can do more.

Our knowledge-rich curriculum should belong to and include every child. We strongly believe we are teaching our pupils the best that has been thought and said. We select and teach powerful knowledge that pupils can think with, critique and ultimately improve upon. In this moment we are continuing to reflect on our curriculum choices, as we always have done, to ask ourselves whose story do we tell? Whose voice do we amplify?

For those of you that may be interested in joining our PKC partnership, we would like to take this opportunity to share with you the ways in which diversity and inclusion has been woven through our Primary Knowledge Curriculum. We know our work here is not done, and may never be so. But we want to share our practice, to recognise what we have achieved so far and also to ensure the conversations about the ‘what’ in curriculum continue. We hope that our partner schools will join in this discussion with us.

Beginning with art; specific units and artists have been included in the curriculum content to introduce more balance. For example, we study art from the Islamic world, western Africa and China. These units address the issue of accepted art history narratives, colonialization and empire and the influence of non-Western art on art of the Western world. Women artists have also been included, and in key stage 2 there is provision for discussing why women are under-represented in traditional Western art history narratives. A study of modernism and art from the 20th century has been introduced to provide an opportunity to study art by women and artists from ethnic groups traditionally underrepresented in British art.

Our history curriculum is balanced to ensure we include local, British and world history, and we have adapted our curriculum to ensure we study a wider range of contexts in each unit- including the social and cultural context of the time. While we look at the influence that the wider world has had on Britain and vice versa, when we study world history, we do so for its own sake. We cover fascinating ancient civilisations, the expansion and dissolutions of empires, and the achievements and atrocities committed by humankind across the ages. Throughout our curriculum, we explore stories of people from the past, looking at adversity, and the adventures and achievements of humanity. Through history, we learn about the lives of diverse people; from the widely venerated, to the lives of the less well-known people who offer us an alternative viewpoint- from Aristotle to Equiano, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Alan Turning. We cover issues of inequality, religious persecution and racism in past societies; and in Year 6, the children are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge from across the curriculum to delve deeper into the history of human rights and equality.

In geography, the children will study local, British and world geography. We go beyond National Curriculum requirements and our geography curriculum equips pupils with knowledge about diverse places, people and environments. They will discover explorers such as Ibn Battuta, and look at the migration of both animals and people, studying the impact migration and colonialism had on places such as Australia and New Zealand. In the summer term of Year 6, children will study globalisation; a unit that requires children to apply knowledge from across the geography curriculum. They will use data from around the world to understand social, economic and political globalisation. Children will have many opportunities to reflect upon the advantages and challenges globalisation brings and will consider the importance of sustainability and equity in relation to human interactions with the physical world. We have seen that arming children with powerful knowledge about the world around them helps them to develop a love for the subject of geography, and also recognise their own role in becoming a responsible global citizen.

In addition, in science, the children are taught that scientific discoveries have been made since time began around the world. The children learn about the work of scientists such as Lewis Howard Latimer, who invented the carbon filament that allowed Edison’s lightbulb to light up the world. In Year 5 children learn about Jabir ibn Hayyan who is thought to have invented a crucial tool for the distillation process; the alembic. In Year 1 children learn about their senses and reflect upon the challenges faced by Helen Keller who achieved a university degree despite being blind and deaf from her early childhood. Importantly in Science, over time, children learn about scientists and their search for the truth. They learn that the people who have contributed to science, from Ancient Baghdad to Ancient Rome and beyond, are diverse and many voices make up the story of science.

The PKC team are committed to educating ourselves and are excited to have so many schools already signed up to our partnership that we can begin this journey with. Together, in our roles as educators, with no political bias, we will do our very best to equip our pupils with the knowledge and understanding to respect all people and the world that we share together.

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