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African-led classes at free primary school

EDUCATE: MEaP director of research Ornette Clennon

MAINSTREAM SCHOOLS are failing our black children, says an enterprise led by black educators that will be unveiling its plans to correct this by opening a school in Greater Manchester.

Following the recent public meeting ‘How Our Schools Fail Black Children… and what we can do about it’, hosted by Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Race Relations Resource Centre and UNISON, a series of parental consultations is set to begin by Making Education a Priority (MEaP).

High on the agenda is the plan for Greater Manchester’s first African diaspora-led primary free school with a nursery.

The organisation believes that in light of the high rates of exclusions for African Caribbean young people and the wider marginalisation of Muslim communities via the PREVENT strategy, a school celebrating cultural heritage and mother tongue teaching is desperately needed for Manchester’s ethnically diverse communities.

And its team of educational experts from Highway Hope, Grace Incorporated Faith Trust, Strategies to Elevate People, The African Pot and Twilight School are well-placed to offer an alternative school that meets those needs.

MEaP director Henry Ngawoofah said: “With Brexit looming and with the rise in recorded incidents of race-hate crimes it is really important that we return to the initial Free School ethos in order to rebuild community cohesion.

“It’s an ethos that encouraged parents to take back control of their local schools in order to help create learning environments that better reflected their values and their diverse heritages.”

MEaP, which was established in 2013, has a distinct vision for the school, which will be open to all nationalities but will focus on Education for Global Citizenship.

MEaP’s director of research and education Ornette Clennon said: “When you read the community cohesion policies of most schools they talk about celebrating the cultural heritage of their children but when you look more closely these types of celebrations tend to be skin-deep and additional, and African Diaspora history tends to go unexplored.

“In our school, cultural heritage and mother tongue teaching will be one of our core subjects and will be taught every day. “In our curriculum, the specific cultural heritages of our children will inform the teaching of other foundation subjects such as history, geography, music, art, science, RE and PSHE.

“Our curriculum will be based on Education for Global Citizenship and will use what we call a ‘connected histories’ approach to teaching that will teach how all of our cultures and histories contribute to world history, not just British history.

“In this way we intend to instil a pride and confidence in all of our children that will allow them to use their cultural heritage as an educational asset throughout their lives as they become global citizens.”

The event will take place on October 24 from 6pm to 8pm at the Windrush Millennium Centre on Alexandra Road in Manchester.

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