Troy Deeney calls for black and Asian history to be made mandatory on curriculum

Hate Crime talk at Birmingham City Football Club
(Image credit: Jacob King)

Birmingham captain Troy Deeney has written an open letter to Government and launched a petition calling for the history and experiences of black, Asian and ethnic minorities to be made mandatory on the national curriculum.

The 33-year-old believes the current set-up is failing children from ethnic minorities and commissioned a YouGov survey which showed the majority of British teachers who took part believe the school system has a racial bias while only 12 per cent feel empowered to teach diverse topics.

Deeney’s open letter to Nadhim Zahawi, Secretary of State for Education, included details of his struggles in school – the former Watford striker was expelled aged 15 and says he was told by one teacher that he would die before his 26th birthday.

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“I believe the current system is failing children from ethnic minorities,” Deeney said in his open letter.

“I’ve found I’m not the only one to feel strongly about this subject – over the past 18 months or so, nearly 400,000 people have signed petitions calling for changes to be made to mandate more diversity onto the national curriculum and numerous debates have been conducted in parliament.

“Yet the teaching of black, Asian and ethnic minority histories and experiences in schools still remains optional and your Government’s stock response has been that the topics are already there and it is down to teachers and schools to teach them.

“Mr Zahawi, I urge you – as Secretary of State for Education – to review this topic again and make the teaching of black, Asian and minority ethnic histories and experiences mandatory throughout the school curriculum.”

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Deeney was involved in Premier League players taking the knee for the first time during the summer of 2020 in support of racial equality and following the Black Lives Matter solidarity protests in the United Kingdom.

He added: “Twenty months ago, I was kneeling alongside my colleagues in the centre of a football pitch, whilst anti-racism demonstrators flooded the streets of the UK, social media stood in solidarity, slaver statues and colonial relics were torn down and hundreds of thousands of people from all backgrounds demanded institutions tackle systemic inequalities in our society to combat racism.

“Now, nearly two years on from the death of George Floyd and the tidal wave of outrage that followed, an eerie quiet seems to have descended on national cultural debate, the issues raised have receded from the news agenda and, if we are to believe the conclusions of the Sewell Report, the UK does not have a systemic problem with racism at all.

“Yet in that time both myself and my family have continued to experience vile racist abuse on social media and, at times, in public, emboldening me even further to use my platform to keep the conversation at the forefront of people’s minds, campaign for change and not to let this movement and its momentum just fade away.”

Millwall v Birmingham City – Sky Bet Championship – The Den

Troy Deeney is captain of his boyhood club Birmingham (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Deeney struggled with his identity growing up, feeling “neither white enough for the white kids or black enough for the black kids” with his father Jamaican and his mother having Irish heritage.

He believes making black, Asian and ethnic minority history and experiences mandatory on the national curriculum will help children with identity issues as well as combat racist beliefs and stereotypes.

“As the proud father of four children, three of which are currently in the education system, this topic has moved front and centre in my own life,” Deeney said.

“I have seen more and more how important it is for my children to be able to see themselves represented in what they are being taught and learn about the contribution and background of people who look like them.

“The importance of education at an early age to inform identity and combat racist beliefs and stereotypes cannot be understated.”

Earlier this month, Deeney commissioned a YouGov survey on 1,107 teachers, with 54 per cent of all respondents believing the national curriculum does have a racial basis and 72 per cent thinking the Government should do more to support the teaching of cultural diversity.

Among the ethnic minority teachers surveyed, 93 per cent reckon there is a racial bias in the current school system.

“As the findings show, despite your Government’s assertations that diverse topics are already in place on the curriculum and sufficient teacher training is provided, clearly that is not enough and the support and desire to do more is there,” he said in his open letter to Zahawi.

“It is for these reasons that I want to reignite this conversation and put it back on the agenda.”

:: The petition can be found here: https://www.change.org/p/the-rt-hon-nadhim-zahawi-mp-make-the-teaching-of-bame-histories-and-experiences-mandatory-across-the-school-curriculum

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