Celebrating British and Irish Authors of African and Caribbean Heritage – free resources 

By Emma Slater, GCSEPod

It’s great that in June 2021, Members of Parliament held a debate on including Black history and cultural diversity in the curriculum.  However, the government still seems to be placing the responsibility of ensuring that children are taught a wide variety of topics on teachers.

Undoubtedly, significant structural change takes time to effect, and while teachers and students are eager to explore diversity in schools, a lack of resources in how to approach this area confidently, make this difficult to achieve. Until the curriculum is changed, it has fallen to organisations like Teach First and the Black Curriculum, among others, to provide educational resources that try to redress this balance. Regardless of who should be responsible for diversifying the curriculum,  it cannot be right that currently, fewer than one per cent of students at GCSE level study a book by a writer of colour.

At GCSEPod we think it is our responsibility to use our EdTech platform to help enrich the curriculum.  We are incredibly proud of the free resources we published in collaboration with poet Degna Stone to celebrate British and Irish authors of African and Caribbean heritage (The CAACH project). This much deliberated shortlist, while presenting a diverse and fascinating cross-section of British and Irish talent is, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. Our hope is that these Pods,and accompanying learning materials, will inspire and empower educators and learners alike to read more, learn more and do more. 

Resources to share
The resources explore the literary contributions of the African diaspora in the UK and Ireland and include 25 audio-video ‘pods’ that examine different writers’ backgrounds, influences and approaches to writing.  The pods cover all sorts of writers, from fiction authors and poets to theatre writers and journalists. They are available for free for teachers, children, and parents to use.  To accompany these, we have nine additional resources featuring these writers that help educators introduce topics such as class, racism and language. 

Covering everything from the food that makes us feel at home, Shakespeare’s hip-hop credentials and traditional African folktales to complex, sensitive discussions around race, sexuality, identity and  belonging, these resources are not just for students of GCSE age. There is plenty of brilliant material here to introduce to younger children, as well as more challenging areas to explore with teenagers and young adults. GCSEPod’s aim is for these resources to be shared and used as widely as possible, giving students the chance to explore a truly diverse range of literature, potentially for the first time in their academic life.

We were also delighted to work with L’myah Sherae from the APPG on Race Equality in Education on this project.

According to the responses to a House of Commons Petition Committee survey, some teachers lack confidence in their ability to develop their students' understanding of Black history and cultural diversity. Teachers need resources, direction, and encouragement, ideally from the Department of Education, if they are to consider teaching topics they are unfamiliar with. While the CAACH project Pods are based on literary works, the themes and topics explored in these videos, as well as the additional teaching and learning aids, are relevant to so many subjects, not just English. Teachers of history, drama, art, music and more will find some fantastic ideas within these resources for bringing greater diversity into their lessons. 

The CAACH project is the first in a series of special projects that GCSEPod has planned that focus on subjects which have traditionally been overlooked in the classroom.  Though it would be great if the government took action to diversify the curriculum centrally, until they do, we hope to provide quality resources that will help teachers and leaders in schools, colleges and trusts enrich their offer to students.

Emma Slater is Education Director at GCSEPod.

GCSEPod is an ASCL Premier Partner. Find out more here.  Further information about the CAACH project is available here

Posted: 09/11/2021 11:15:27