According to a 2019 study, only 11% of GCSE students are studying modules relating to Black history.
In Peterborough, primary school teacher Precious Graham is striving to change this statistic by exposing young people to Black history with a Saturday school called Culture Community.
“With everything going on: the protesting, the Black Lives Matter movement, I just felt that this is the time,” she says.
“I thought, if the school’s not going to do it then I can do it.”
For Precious, youth clubs shaped a lot of her knowledge of Black history growing up and she wants to do the same thing for young people in Peterborough and beyond.
This desire to teach Black history shifted into a reality when Precious became concerned that by not learning Black history in schools, children and young people wouldn’t know about the many influential Black figures of the past.
“I have four children of my own and I felt that they needed to learn about their own history because there’s so much they don’t know,” she says.
“Even small things like inventors – we have a lot of Black inventors but all we teach in school are the white ones.”
Working alongside a group of volunteers, Precious launched the Saturday school on April 17, conducting the lessons over Zoom.
The aim of the first session was to see what the young people already knew about Black History in a fun and comfortable setting.
“I wanted to get away from the image of an actual school, I wanted something like a youth group but you’re still learning.
“We had a presentation on Black history and then there was a quiz at the end to win prizes,” she recalls.
“One of the questions in the quiz was ‘Black history started from slavery’ and half of the group put ‘true’. That’s when I realised this is the reason we’re doing this as a lot of generations only know about slavery,” she admits.
“I think a lot of children perceive that Black history started as slavery which is keeping them oppressed without them knowing it.”
Culture Community aims to tackle just that by exposing this common misconception by teaching younger people that although injustice is a part of Black history, there is so much more to it.
As a teacher herself, Precious not only wants to see Black history implemented into the school curriculum, she also wants change within the teaching staff and how they are trained.
“In my son’s school, there’s no one that he can relate to, there’s no one that he can talk to,” she says, sharing that her son’s school is predominantly white, with only a handful of Black teachers and students.
“A lot of teachers can’t have that compassion for someone unless they’ve dealt with it themselves.”
A recent study found that 46% of all schools in England have no Black, Asian, and minority ethnic teachers, which is why organisations like Culture Community are important.
Culture Communuity navigates difficult topics such as slavery and segregation with extreme care, providing pupils with qualified people on hand for their support and to answer any questions they may have.
The Saturday school has also received funding support before launching from Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services (PCVS) and Youth Inspired.
And once Covid restrictions are eased in June, Culture Community will hold weekly sessions at The Afro Caribbean Millennium Centre in Peterborough for children of any background, aged between 11 and 16.
“It [the negative and traumatic effects in Black history] affects all of us and even now I’m learning so much.
“If I can build this up and even have it in different cities, I’m gonna fight for it.”
For more information about Culture Community visit their Instagram page @CultureCommunity2021 and Facebook.