Council opts not to 'prescriptively define' what is taught in local schools
March 5, 2021
Wandsworth Council has rejected a motion to publish a public strategy on anti-racism in schools – despite the education committee approving it last year.
Labour councillors brought forward the motion to 'decolonise the curriculum' at last Wednesday night's full council meeting (3 March).
Councillor Judi Gasser, presenting, said the strategy could make Wandsworth 'the most inclusive, anti-racist borough in London', and that it was necessary after the brutal murder of George Floyd in the United States last year to understand and tackle systemic racism.
The strategy would bring together examples of best practice on decolonising the curriculum from educational leaders and institutions both inside and outside of the borough, and would be created in partnership with local schools, young people and parents.
Cllr Gasser said that by decolonising the curriculum she meant 'rethinking what is taught and acknowledging the effect of colonialism on society.'
'Seeing yourself left out of history can have an impact on who you become in the future,' she said.
She stressed that the education committee voted in favour of a previous version of this motion last year with the help of voting non-council members, but it was ignored at the executive and cut off by the guillotine at the last full council meeting.
Conservative Cllr George Crivelli proposed an amendment to the motion which highlighted examples of best practice already taking place in the borough, such as creating award-winning music, short movies, books and pamphlets on diversity and inclusion.
However he argued that the council has no place to 'prescriptively define' the content of the school curriculum, adding that 27 schools in the borough are academies and free schools that do not have to follow the national curriculum anyway.
He stressed that the council's equalities working group was instead focused on tackling issues at root and prioritising targeted intervention programmes as part of the borough's Smart Growth Plan.
Labour Cllr Aydin Dikerdem said the Conservative amendment 'sets a ridiculous precedent' by deleting most of the original motion.
The Conservative amendment passed by 30 votes to 25.
Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter