Challenging racism through PSHE education

While PSHE education has a part to play in allowing a safe space to explore attitudes and interpersonal relationships, it should be seen predominantly as preventative education, providing teaching year on year through a planned, spiral curriculum, rather than a reactive measure in response to events. It should also be part of a whole-school approach, including a pastoral system that can mediate specific issues that arise (such as prejudice-based bullying or other incidents).

PSHE also complements other curriculum areas. For example, Citizenship education provides a space to explore topics such as social justice, active and responsible citizenship, and the systemic aspects that can influence biases and stereotypes that reinforce, for example, institutional racism and white privilege.

Anti-racism education must be embedded throughout a young person’s school journey. It cannot be effectively delivered in a single lesson, assembly or through commemorative events (such as Black History Month) alone; though these can greatly enrich a planned programme. Where schools are following our Programme of Study and Programme Builders, there are a number of opportunities to provide anti-racism education at age and developmentally appropriate stages (as set out below).

KS1 H21. to recognise what makes them special
H22. to recognise the ways in which we are all unique
R11. about how people may feel if they experience hurtful behaviour or bullying
R12. that hurtful behaviour (offline and online) including teasing, name-calling, bullying and deliberately excluding others is not acceptable; how to report bullying; the importance of telling a trusted adult
R23. to recognise the ways in which they are the same and different to others
L4. about the different groups they belong to
KS2 H25. about personal identity; what contributes to who we are (e.g. ethnicity, family, gender, faith, culture, hobbies, likes/dislikes
H27. to recognise their individuality and personal qualities
R20. strategies to respond to hurtful behaviour experienced or witnessed, offline and online (including teasing, name-calling, bullying, trolling, harassment or the deliberate excluding of others); how to report concerns and get support
R21. about discrimination: what it means and how to challenge
R31. to recognise the importance of self-respect and how this can affect their thoughts and feelings about themselves; that everyone, including them, should expect to be treated politely and with respect by others (including when online and/or anonymous) in school and in wider society; strategies to improve or support courteous, respectful relationships
R32. about respecting the differences and similarities between people and recognising what they have in common with others e.g. physically, in personality or background
L6. about the different groups that make up their community; what living in a community means
L8. about diversity: what it means; the benefits of living in a diverse community; about valuing diversity within communities
L9. about stereotypes; how they can negatively influence behaviours and attitudes towards others; strategies for challenging stereotypes
L10. about prejudice; how to recognise behaviours/actions which discriminate against others; ways of responding to it if witnessed or experienced
KS3 R38. to recognise bullying, and its impact, in all its forms; the skills and strategies to manage being targeted or witnessing others being bullied
R39. the impact of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination on individuals and relationships
R40. about the unacceptability of prejudice-based language and behaviour, offline and online, including sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, racism, ableism and faith-based prejudice
R41. the need to promote inclusion and challenge discrimination, and how to do so safely, including online
R43. the role peers can play in supporting one another to resist pressure and influence, challenge harmful social norms and access appropriate support
L10. to recognise and challenge stereotypes and family or cultural expectations that may limit aspirations
L26. that on any issue there will be a range of viewpoints; to recognise the potential influence of extreme views on people’s attitudes and behaviours
KS4 R34. strategies to challenge all forms of prejudice and discrimination
R36. skills to support younger peers when in positions of influence
L5. about the need to challenge stereotypes about particular career pathways, maintain high aspirations for their future and embrace new opportunities
L24. that social media may disproportionately feature exaggerated or inaccurate information about situations, or extreme viewpoints; to recognise why and how this may influence opinions and perceptions of people and events
L29. to recognise the shared responsibility to challenge extreme viewpoints that incite violence or hate and ways to respond to anything that causes anxiety or concern

For pupils in primary school, teaching about topics such as ‘managing hurtful behaviour and bullying’ and ‘respecting self and others’ can be tailored to explore anti-racism. Schools teaching about relationships and bullying in Key Stage 1 may discuss how name-calling, bullying and excluding others is unacceptable and may select age-appropriate scenarios that enable them to discuss this in an anti-racism context.

During Key Stage 2, this learning may develop to consider how these actions and words can affect others in a wider variety of settings, including online. Discussion regarding identifying and reporting discrimination in a range of situations can include examples related to race in these lessons. Schools may wish to use our Inclusion, Belonging and Addressing Extremism pack to begin teaching about issues such as belonging and stereotypes.

In secondary school, enabling students to recognise and tackle stereotypes, bias and discrimination can be embedded into teaching about self-concept, including privilege or limiting beliefs; forming and maintaining respectful relationships; and bullying, abuse and discrimination. As students move from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 4 and post-16 learning, the situations should evolve to become increasingly nuanced and relevant to young adults. For example, Key Stage 3 students find contexts within the school environment more relatable, while older students may require more situations that are reflective of workplaces or higher education.

To facilitate anti-racism education, stories and literature can provide the opportunity for distanced scenarios to discuss in the classroom. Stories bring issues to life and help young people understand how to identify discrimination and racism, the impact it has on people and how to report and challenge such attitudes and behaviours. There is a wide range of books that can provide a stimulus for classroom discussion. Organisations such as BookTrust and LoveReading recommend a range of books on a wide variety of topics (including racism), and include an age recommendation with all of the books listed on their site.


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