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Victory! Mary Seacole stays on national curriculum

SOMETHING ABOUT MARY: Seacole will remain on the revised version of the National Curriculum

TWO OF Britain’s most popular black historical heroes will remain on the national curriculum, it was revealed today.

Crimean War nurse Mary Seacole and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano were both at risk of being dropped in education secretary Michael Gove’s shake-up of the curriculum.

A leak from his department raised the alarm last month, claiming Gove wanted to see “more traditional” British figures such as Oliver Cromwell and other white men.

But following a high-profile campaign led by Operation Black Vote (OBV) and other campaigners, the much-loved heroes do appear on the revised curriculum, published today.

The confirmation is a huge victory for the thousands of people - 35,972 - who signed a petition in defence of Seacole and Equiano’s importance.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg pledged his support for Seacole and more than 48 cross-party MPs backed an Early Day Motion to highlight her significance.

Simon Woolley, director of OBV, said: "We have won. This is one of the biggest victories we have had as a community.

"Now we can all rest assured that all children will learn about Mary Seacole and Olaudah Equiano and have lessons that represent the diversity of history."

He added: "I want to thank everybody who got involved for their signatures and their support.

"I would particularly like to thank The Voice for standing alongside activists on this issue."

Equiano will continue to be taught in history lessons exploring “the struggle for power in Britain” which includes the slave trade, the abolition of slavery and his role alongside other freed Africans in putting an end to the inhumane practice.

Seacole falls under “Britain’s social and cultural development during the Victorian era” in the section dedicated to the changing role of women alongside fellow nurse Florence Nightingale.

Other topics that all of Britain’s maintained schools are obligated to teach includes, “Britain’s retreat from Empire” touching upon the ‘Wind of Change’ in Africa with figures such as Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah.

Students will also learn about the Windrush generation and the Race Relations Act.

The revised curriculum is open to consultation until April 16, 2013.

Gove has also scrapped plans to replace GCSEs with the proposed English Bacclaureate Certificate following pressure from teachers.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he described the move as a "bridge too far".

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