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Kenton secondary school rings the changes with ‘anti-racist’ diversity programme within its mainstream teaching

PUBLISHED: 14:49 02 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:15 06 July 2020

Shalina Patel, infront of a history display. Picture: Claremont High School

Shalina Patel, infront of a history display. Picture: Claremont High School

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A secondary school in Kenton “hopes change is coming” as it continues to expand diversity into its mainstream teaching.

Diverse history programmes grace the walls at Claremont. Picture: Claremont High SchoolDiverse history programmes grace the walls at Claremont. Picture: Claremont High School

Shalina Patel, history teacher at Claremont High School in Claremont Avenue, has captivated staff and pupils alike with her research into “forgotten” heroes from the Black, Asian and minority Ethnic communities.

“When we studied Noor Inayat Khan, who was a top undercover agent in World War Two, the excitement in the room was amazing,” she said. “Students came alive before my eyes.”

Inspired by the student reactions, Patel researched more historical figures and started to make vibrant displays in the history corridor to recognise and celebrate their achievements, long before the recent global #BlackLivesMatter campaigns.

Ms Patel, who is also head of teaching and learning, said: “It started conversations in the classrooms, and with colleagues.

Shalina Patel, history teacher at Claremont. Picture: Claremont High SchoolShalina Patel, history teacher at Claremont. Picture: Claremont High School

“The idea of acknowledging the debt to BAME authors, scientists, musicians, mathematicians for example is starting to become embedded in the culture of our school community.”

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A new teaching approach soon followed focussed around diversity and aiming to give students a more “well-rounded inclusive history of Britain”.

“It’s about historical accuracy and the completeness of the record of our joint lives,” Ms Patel said. “And it’s about fairness and respect for the contributions that black and ethnic minority people – and indeed any marginalised group – has made to this country.”

More than 90% of Claremont pupils are from an Indian, Caribbean or African heritage.

“Students need to see themselves in the history curriculum. I think it’s a big reason why at Claremont we get so many students to do A Level as well as then having a steady stream of BAME students studying History at Oxbridge.

“An intersectional curriculum is something everyone should be striving for - here’s hoping change is coming!”

Executive Head Nicki Hyde-Boughey, also an historian, said: “To see students enthused about history like this is marvellous.

“But this initiative is bigger than that. It certainly asks questions about what our next steps are as a community in creating an anti-racist school for pupils and staff.”


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