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Children’s laureate criticises Gove’s curriculum

EDUCATION CRITIC: Malorie Blackman (PA)

EDUCATION SECRETARY Michael Gove has come under fire from the UK’s first black children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman.

Blackman has spoken out against Gove’s proposals to change the history curriculum, which she said would make it focus heavily on Britain and “very inward-looking”.

Blackman, a former teacher of black history who is of Bajan heritage, told the Guardian: “It's a mistake to get very inward-looking and say if you're doing history we're going to concentrate on the royals or Winston Churchill.

“I understand you need to learn about Henry VIII but when I was young I wanted to learn about something that felt more relevant.”

The children’s laureate said that pupils should have a more diverse grounding in historical figures, including ethnic minority people who made a difference, in order to ensure the learning process is more inclusive.

“I do feel it's very dangerous if you make it seem like history is the province of a certain segment of society”, she said.

“History should belong to and include all of us. The curriculum needs to appeal to as many children as possible or a number of them could become disenchanted with education because they feel it's not relevant”, Blackman added.

The children’s author is the eighth person to take on the role of children’s laureate after the post was created in 1999 to recognise writers who made a lifetime contribution to young people’s literature.

Talking further about how the next generation is fitting into the concept of multiculturalism, Blackman said: “I don't think we've gone far enough with it in terms of making sure children know about different cultures.

“If you want people to feel they are part of society, it's about making it more inclusive.

“We need more books that are specifically about the British BME [black and minority ethnic] experience and that's why I bang the drum for more diversity and not having this idea that if a book has got pictures of a black or Asian child then it's going to have a limited market.”

A revised national curriculum is to be published this summer by the Department for Education.

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