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Mum with a mission

HIGHER LEARNING: Stephanie Pitter with pupils (from left) Alicia Smith, Chloe-Louise Bates, Tumi Modipa, Hezekiah Calub, and Nickaya Lawrence at Four Dwellings

THEY MAY all be still at primary school but these youngsters know more about black history than many university students – and it’s all down to the determination of one mum’s belief in the importance of spreading the right messages about the past.

Stephanie Pitter is passionate about making sure black history is given the attention it deserves on the national curriculum – and she’s not stopping until she gets the issue discussed in Parliament.

Armed with an online petition, the mum-of-four’s mission is to inspire, persuade and urge 100,000 people to sign up before February 2015 in order for the Government to debate the matter.

If what she has achieved in one Birmingham school is anything to go by, Stephanie will do it.

An hour spent at Four Dwellings Primary Academy, where Stephanie is a parent governor and teaches black history voluntarily is enough to see how the youngsters and staff have taken this campaigner to their hearts.

“When she comes into my class you can hear a pin drop. The children are captivated,” said Claire Slater, a year five teacher. “In fact as teachers we fight over her because everyone wants Stephanie to work with their class.”

She has talked with staff and organised black history topics for the appropriate year groups – with the youngest children focusing on the lives of Mary Seacole, Martin Luther King or Louis Armstrong, to year six completing more complex work on lesser known black figures such as Madame CJ Walker or Bill Pickett, the first black rodeo champion.

COINCIDES

Four Dwellings became one of the first primary schools in Birmingham to study black history in February, which coincides with when the subject is celebrated in the US, Canada and the Caribbean.

“When it comes to black history I want the next generation of children to learn that there’s so much more to it than slavery,” explained Stephanie, who was a social worker specialising in asylum seekers and child protection before taking up her current campaign.

“In the same way, we want today’s children to learn that there is more to Africa than poverty. We’re also planning a feast of cultures, focused on food, which the parents are really keen to do. One white mum said to me: ‘I want to do fried dumplings, not bangers and mash!”

Deputy head Heather Rowlands said the school felt very lucky to have Stephanie, while head teacher Bob Jones added: “As we’re a multi cultural school, this is a vital part of our curriculum.”

Meanwhile, pupils at Four Dwellings have been busy working on several history projects, including the making of a quilt as they studied the story of Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt.

Stephanie adds: “I now have just under a year to raise 100,000 signatures – it’s a huge task but I’m determined. Last year I collected 10,000 names on paper, so to anyone one who signed that for me, please visit the online version. I’m saying to everyone don’t just look at it and like it, sign and share it.”

PETITION

Her campaign has the backing of many high profile black figures already and she hopes more will come on board once they know about the petition.

“I’ve been working with schools in London and my aim is for schools across the UK to carry the petition details on their websites and encourage parents to sign up. If everyone pulls together on this it’s all possible.”

To sign the petition visit: www.blackhistory.co.nr or email Stephanie at stephanie pitter@hotmail.co.uk

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