Rethinking the curriculum: Calls to make black history mandatory in the classroom

Tap above to watch video report by Nitya Rajan

In an unusually quiet school playground, 14-year-old Michael Cheetam is comfortably silent.

Dressed in a black t-shirt and olive green jogging bottoms, he is at ease with his peers at Acland Burghley School, effortlessly injecting humour into a humourless conversation about racism. 

He is one among six students speaking to ITV News about their history curriculum and what impact it has on their life outside school.

14-year-old Michael Cheetam has been racially profiled and believes history lessons are a key part of changing negative stereotypes. Credit: ITV News

The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a spotlight on the UK's education system, with calls for Britain's colonial history to be made a mandatory part of the curriculum. 

Gwendoline Frye, a senior curriculum leader at Acland Burghley, initiated the school's shift towards black history being taught throughout the year, adamant the lessons are representative of the student population.

Michael Cheetam, who has been racially profiled, believes teaching all aspects of black history inside the classroom will help break down negative stereotypes outside the school walls.

Describing the impact of the newly adapted lessons, he added:

Jamie Fountain, in year eight, said the school's inclusive approach to history has changed his own opinion of British history.

Jamie Fountain told ITV News: "It just changed my perception on what the British empire did for people.

But among the older students, there is an even-keeled anger. Sara Bardulete who is starting her GCSEs said:

Sara Bardulete, a student at Acland Burghley School

Responding to the calls for change, the Department for Education said in statement:

'Fill in the Blanks', a campaign led by students from former British colonies, argues the Government's response doesn't go far enough. Nicolo Sodik Oguntodu from Brixton said:

Campaigners from 'Fill in the Blanks' argue the Government's response doesn't go far enough. 

His fellow campaigner, Iman Ahmed, added:

For now, how history is taught will very much depend on who is doing the teaching.