THROUGHOUT October, which is Black History Month, students and staff at King’s Ely Senior have explored varied elements of ‘Black History’, with the view to further understand the heritage and culture of black British people in society and their huge contribution throughout Modern England.

On October 18th, students Neha, Tehilla and Amanda, led a thought-provoking service in Ely Cathedral to raise our awareness of topics, such as white fragility and the importance of allyship.

Ben Allen, Deputy Head of English at King’s Ely Senior and our LGBTQ and Inclusion Lead, said: “I truly commend Neha, Amanda and Tehilla for their efforts and dedication. I found Tehilla’s personal account and desire to “keep spreading love” particularly evocative.”

But our Black History Month activities and celebrations have also featured heavily in the classroom…

In English: An exploration of works by black British poets, Caleb Femi (author of the recent work, Poor) and the Dean Atta (author of the LGBTQ+ narrative poem, The Black Flamingo). Pupils compared these two poems around the theme of ‘choice’ for National Poetry Day. The Department has also created a display on black fiction.

In Psychology: Students explored Mamie and Kenneth Clark’s ‘Doll Experiment’ and its implications around social attitudes towards differences between white and black racial identities. Although a modern version of the experiment included Latino identities, pupils reflected on the sadness that some attitudes had not changed for the better within the experiment, allowing them to consider the importance of months, such as Black History Month.

In Science: Pupils have been taking part in a competition to identify black scientists on a historical, visual trail, with images of these progressive thinkers being placed around the Department. There is a prize for the student who correctly identifies all of the scientists, and the winner will be announced within Science lessons.

In Physical Education: Students watched a video on the topic of ‘Privilege’, as discussed in earlier assemblies by Mr Shaw. Mr Green encouraged students to consider how areas of our privilege (age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, religion, sexual orientation etc) can allow us to make further progress within British society. Students contemplated how historical stereotypes associated with race may create barriers for those within minority groups.

In History: Mr Currie encouraged Year 9 pupils to explore a lesson entitled ‘Pilates of the Caribbean’ about RAF pilots and crew from the Caribbean during the events of WWII. At GCSE level, pupils were given a lesson on race and the 1936 Olympics, exploring racial issues within the 1930s. Within A Level study, pupils have been contemplating on the Windrush scandal.

In Music: For the newly introduced ‘Monday’s Musical Musings’, Ms Briggs explored two black musical trailblazers from the 20th to the 21st Century. You can read her article on the Kanneh-Mason family and the African American composer, Florence Price, here: Additionally, students have been encouraged to explore the BBC4 documentary on Black Classical Musicians, The Forgotten History, here:

In Film Studies: With Mr Merrell, pupils have been focusing on themes of ethnicity within mainstream Hollywood film, La La Land, and independent cinema production, Captain Fantastic. Students have been considering the positioning of people from different ethnic backgrounds (as portrayed in film) and how they compare to a (largely dominant) white, male cast. This has formed part of students’ studies of ‘Narrative and Ideology in Mainstream Contemporary Films’ module, and they have also investigated the contributions of filmmakers and production crews.

Mr Allen said: “Thank you to all students, staff and parents who supported Black History Month. We look forward to continuing our dedication to provide inclusive education and support for everyone here at King’s.”

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