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Newham councillors respond to primary school BHM controversy

PICTURED: Seyi Akiwowo and James Beckles

NEWHAM COUNCILLORS Seyi Akiwowo and James Beckles have spoken out after it was revealed that St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School, in Manor Park, sent a letter asking parents to dress their children as slaves for a special assembly.

Read their statement below:

"It was extremely disappointing and upsetting to read that a primary school in Newham had asked it’s pupils to come to school dressed as slaves to mark the 30th Anniversary of Black History Month. As local black councillors and having grown up in one of the most diverse boroughs in the UK, it was surprising that a teacher had not taken the time to research appropriate and effective ways to celebrate Black History Month and educate their pupils."

"Yes colonialism and slavery had an impact on future generations and countries and is a part of world history - that cannot and should not be forgotten. However, there is so much more to Black History Month than the transatlantic slave trade and this was not the intentions of Akyaaba Addai-Sebo- the founder of UK Black History Month."

"A more rounded approach to the teaching of black history is needed here. Time and time again we see missed opportunities to celebrate black Britons who have achieved and contributed so much, an opportunity to inspire children and make learning history relatable."

"There are several good resources available for teachers, schools and parents to refer to; Paula Perry’s Black British History Guide for example. Even a quick search online about Black History Month will yield a large resource of information including notable figures, diverse cultures and our pre-slavery history, which should be explored in a place of learning."

"We understand regretful mistakes are made and hope there’s true learning from this awful situation. Next year, we hope to see all schools mindful of the significance of Black History Month and hope they take a renewed, holistic approach to teaching this to our children."

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