There have been 2 exchanges between Sir Gary Streeter and Department for Education
|Tue 18th June 2019||History Curriculum: Migration (Westminster Hall)||11 interactions (43 words)|
|Tue 7th May 2019||Ivybridge Community College: Examination Pressure (Westminster Hall)||2 interactions (2,689 words)|
I thank the hon. Lady for giving way again; her speech, including its introduction, is excellent. Does she agree that it is essential that our children understand the importance of how migrants have flocked to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for years and have integrated well into our systems? It is important to understand that not all immigrants wish to have “their” country and “our” country; indeed, our country is made up of those who live here, integrate and raise their children to be British, and who have made this nation as great as it is today. In my constituency, there are Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Chinese, people from eastern Europe, and people from Nigeria and Kenya. All those people together have made this nation great.
I thank the hon. Member for his intervention, and his point is very well made. If we teach our history with a migration narrative, everybody in our society can understand exactly the diversity of which he spoke so well.
Our Migration Story challenges us to rethink British history by capturing the histories of ordinary and otherwise marginalised Britons; by charting histories of welcome and inclusion, as well as those of rejection, exclusion, inequality and violence; by placing histories and conditions of global connectedness at its core; and by making mainstream British identity inseparable from 2,000 years of migration and settlement. The site connects its content with the national curriculum, and it has received several awards. It adopts a rigorous and academically recognised approach; in fact, it reflects the way that history is already often taught at universities.
Even in some of the most diverse communities, such as those in my constituency, our understanding of the history of migration is often limited. Lambeth Archives has just opened a fantastic exhibition at Lambeth town hall called “Before and After Windrush: 350 years of Black People in Lambeth”. It has been curated in response to the assumption that many people made during last year’s celebration of the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush that there had been no black people living in Lambeth prior to 1948, and it charts the area’s history from the first record of a black person living in Lambeth in 1661 to the present day. That longevity is so significant for our current community. We have always been diverse; people from across the world have always contributed to community life in Lambeth. People from everywhere belong here. As the Windrush anniversary logo, which was designed by young people from Brixton, reflected, the Windrush generation are part of our DNA, but long before 1948 our DNA was international.
My plea to the Minister today is not to dismiss this research, as he did back in January, but to engage with it. In our society, which is both diverse and riven with divisions, we need the teaching of history to be inclusive, we need everyone to be able to find their place in it and we need our definition of “British”, based on our understanding of history, to be inclusive. That means not only making migration content available, but signposting it effectively and considering making more of it compulsory. It also means making additional training and continuing professional development available to teachers to equip them with the confidence to teach new material. To return to where I started, it means working to realise a vision in which everyone in our diverse country, whatever their heritage, can say with pride and confidence: “Our history is British history.”
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The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I have not seen in any of the material any detailed work on that, but I suspect that it is included as part of the thinking that goes on to produce the result. The subject that he identifies is valuable in teaching, in understanding not just how things have happened historically but how they are still happening to Christian groups around the world. I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that point.
The last Royal Geographical Society project is a complex one, but it starts from the position that although migration to Britain in the past has been overwhelmingly the story of a small number of nations, recent immigrants have come from a larger number and the numbers of immigrants who were born in the Caribbean and, indeed, in Ireland—traditionally key migrant groups—have fallen and the numbers of others have risen in their place.
In summary, why do I think that this is more part of geography? We have seen the historical context in all the modules put forward by the Royal Geographical Society, but migration is about place. It is about spatial relationships and it is also about social science, and I think that the issues about place and spatial relationships are more appropriate to a geographical course, given that those modules are already being offered.
Thank you, Mr Streeter. I, too, apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Lyn Brown). She has been in the House a lot longer than I have and perhaps should have been called first.
I am passionate about history—one of my proudest boasts is that I am a history graduate—and I want to talk about how history is taught in schools, about how a subject about the human life story is often seen as boring and dry. It amazes me that we are so narrow in our curriculum, in how we speak. I did GCSE history, and I could sum it up like this: there was Adolf Hitler’s Germany, which I studied in depth, then crime and punishment, which was mainly about Jack the Ripper, and then we did the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that was it. I then did my A-levels and we did the Tudors and the civil war, and even when we talked about people we talked about them as great people. We talked about Elizabeth I, yet we did not talk about her persecution of Catholicism. We talked about Oliver Cromwell and the new model army but we did not talk about the terrible events at Drogheda. We smooth over those awful events while we are talking about great men.
When we are talking about such things, we also seem to forget about the growth in family history. Right now, people who study history in their spare time, through the various family history websites, want the answers to two questions: who am I, and where did I come from? It is time to do that in schools. I want to use the example of when I visited the Fleur-de-Lys local history society and spoke about a former Member of this House, S. O. Davies. He was deselected by the Labour Party in 1970, was then re-elected as an independent and died in 1972. He was the first person to introduce a Bill to bring in the Welsh Parliament. After the lecture, we started talking about oral history and its importance. There were so many people in that room.
Break in Debate
I have not, but I certainly will. As soon as I get back to my office, I will have a quick butcher’s.
Constituencies such as mine have been blessed with diversity. We include Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians, Africans, Caribbeans, Irish and many others in our number. When we hosted the Olympic games—it was not a London Olympics, but a West Ham Olympics—we believed that we had a resident representative from every participating country living right there in West Ham. Many in my community have immigrant backgrounds, as do some of my closest and dearest family. It simply would not be the place that I love so dearly without them; and we would be much poorer, not only economically but creatively, in terms of the ideas and perspectives that we can draw on. We would be able to communicate so much worse if we did not have those communities living with us, talking with each other and learning from perspectives. Imbibing the cultures and the stories helps us to communicate so much better as a society. That is why it is really important to me that children are taught to see migration for what it is—not just economically beneficial and not just a charitable act, but unreservedly good for our communities and absolutely essential for our future.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Sir Gary. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) on securing this important debate. She made an absolutely barnstorming speech, as is her custom, on teaching migration in the history curriculum. I also congratulate the hon. Member for Henley (John Howell), although I am not sure I agree that migration should be taught as human geography or ethnographic studies. I think it enriches our history when we talk about migration, and it should sit within the history curriculum.
My hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) made powerful points about how the mining community of south Wales has influenced North and South America, but we have to remember how the South Americans have also influenced West Ham. The Chilean, Manuel Pellegrini, and the Argentinian, Pablo Zabaleta, led West Ham to one of its best seasons in many a year, although I would say they were mainly immigrants from Manchester and Manchester City.
I am pleased to be able to respond to the debate, whose subject is close to my heart. Manchester, where I am from, has a rich tradition of inward migration. It was originally founded in AD 79 by the general Agricola, a Gallo-Roman immigrant to Britain, who some said was black. My city has a long history of welcoming migrants from around the world. I am a Mancunian son of two Irish immigrants who settled there as part of a large Irish community in the north-west of England. Britain’s second largest Jewish community calls Manchester home. We have a large Somali community, and Wythenshawe and Sale East, which I represent, has a thriving Chagossian community. We de-populated the Chagos Islands in the late 1960s to give the land to the Americans for the Diego Garcia airbase—the mother of all injustices inflicted on any settlement on the planet in modern times. We recently had an International Court of Justice judgment against the UK, so we are still seeking justice after 50 or 60 years, but the Chagossians bring a rich tapestry to life in south Manchester.
More recently, we have had immigration from India, and the Keralan community has come to populate our hospitals with nurses. Suddenly, on a huge council estate in Wythenshawe, we have Keralans who believe that St Thomas the Apostle directly proselytised their people when he left Jerusalem after the ascension of Christ. Thousands descend on our community to decorate our church and parade in our streets, and they make a huge contribution both culturally and to our NHS.
I have seen at first hand how important it is to teach a curriculum that represents and is relevant to our children. When I was a primary teacher in a school on the banks of the Bridgewater Canal, where I was the history co-ordinator, we did not teach the industrial revolution; we taught the Manchester revolution. We taught about the Duke of Bridgewater building his canal in 1661 and about how that brought coal from the Cheshire plain to Manchester city centre to power Arkwright’s mill on Miller Street 20 years later, which changed the face of the world. I was also the history co-ordinator who introduced Black History Month when it came into being, and we dedicated the month of October to it. A tailored, local approach to history teaching needs to include an accurate and representative British history and the important part that migration has played in the development of our country.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood said, 27% of BAME students in state-funded schools currently have a low take-up of history at key stage 4 and beyond. Research by the Royal Historical Society shows that racial and ethnic inequality affect history more acutely than most disciplines. As has already been said, the Runnymede Trust has shown that, although the national curriculum in theory offers a broader range of diverse histories, in practice there are constraints on what is taught. Labour has pledged to ensure that schools teach black history—we celebrate Black History Month in October—and that would give us an important opportunity to understand the role and legacy of the British empire, colonialism and slavery. The British history taught in schools needs to move beyond binaries of black history versus British history. As has been said, black history is British history. To allow a full, accurate and representative British history to be taught, we must lift the structural constraints holding back teachers. They need to be given access to the resources, teacher training and support necessary to teach a complete version of our national story.
I was pleased to be able to sponsor one of the great consultants in my local hospital, Binita Kane, who was a star in the show about partition that some Members may have seen. The BBC did a show on the 70th anniversary of partition and its impact on the nations of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Imagine, Sir Gary, that you had been in Manchester on Sunday. Oh my word, there were only 26,000 tickets for the global show of India versus Pakistan—the most globally viewed sporting event ever, we think. On the night of the local government elections, I was at the place where we hold them, in Trafford, chatting to the chief executive of Lancashire Cricket Club, and he said that 1.2 million people had applied for tickets for the game. But how many of our young people know how the conflict was driven and what happened to millions of people in the area during partition?
To allow a full, accurate and representative British history to be taught, we must lift the structural constraints. Labour’s schools policy would tackle that. We announced at the National Education Union conference earlier this year that Labour will scrap key stage 1 and key stage 2 SATs, replacing them with a more flexible and practical primary assessment system. The new system will free teachers up so that they can better deliver a rich and varied curriculum. We also committed, in our manifesto, to launching a commission on the curriculum, which will give politicians a chance to listen to everyone. The commission will allow input from experts across all subjects, including on issues such as the one we are debating. It is not good enough in this day and age that the way to change society should be for MPs to raise curriculum change in this place. That is how change was made to the sex and relationships curriculum—on the back of an amendment to the Children and Social Work Act 2017. We have to do better than that when it comes to designing the country’s curriculum. Evidence shows that when children are taught a wide-ranging curriculum and encouraged to be creative and to develop their imagination, they do better at the core elements of literacy and numeracy too.
We cannot ignore the pressures of the Government’s sustained funding cuts. The figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies could not be clearer: they show an 8% real-terms cut since the last Labour Government. We cannot expect teachers to be able to teach the curriculum they want, including a more diverse history of migration, when they face such huge pressures. Labour’s national education service will re-fund our schools, ensuring that all the fantastic teachers have the resources they need to give our children a proper, world-class education. It will also provide practical help for today’s migrants. It will end cuts to English for speakers of other languages—a vital resource for refugees who have sought asylum in Britain. The Government talk about the importance of ensuring that everyone has the chance to learn English, but over the past decade funding for ESOL has been drastically cut. More than £100 million has been taken from the budget—a real-terms cut of almost 60%.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock) has noted, victims of trafficking and modern slavery who are freed in Britain—the Prime Minister must be thanked for her work on that—are often denied access to education by the Government’s rules. We must learn the lessons of the Windrush scandal. Denying the victims an education is both cruel and senseless. The Windrush scandal has been a shame on our country. It was born as a result of the Home Office’s hostile environment—this Government’s policy. It is a story of injustices and migration that highlights the importance of teaching migration in schools so that the Ministers of the future do not make the same mistake. In Labour’s national education service, every child will have not only access to a world-leading school system, but the opportunity to engage in a wide-ranging, accurate and reflective curriculum.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South West Devon (Sir Gary Streeter) on securing the debate, and the pupils at Ivybridge Community College—particularly Lucy, Amelia, Evie, Ela, Lilana, Izzy, Annabelle, Nell, Ella, Katy, Katie and Cameron—on providing such clear and articulate views on this important topic. I recall visiting the college some years ago and opening an excellent maths department. It is an outstanding school with a high proportion of pupils being entered for the EBacc combination of core academic GCSEs.
I agree with many of the points that the pupils made to my hon. Friend, including that mental health is about not just treatment, but prevention. There has been a lot of focus on the significant investment that the Government are making in increasing specialist children and young people’s mental health services. The NHS long-term plan announced that by 2023-24 an additional 345,000 children and young people aged up to 25 will receive mental health support via NHS-funded mental health services and new mental health support teams, as referred to by my hon. Friend. Mental health services will continue to receive a growing share of the NHS budget, with funding set to grow by at least £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24. Spending on children and young people’s mental health services will grow faster than adult services, and faster than other NHS spending. That investment will go a long way towards tackling the sort of waiting times highlighted by my hon. Friend.
The trailblazer areas testing our Green Paper proposals include some testing about how to achieve waiting times of a maximum of four weeks. But the trailblazers also focus on prevention. The mental health support teams we are introducing will be linked to groups of schools and colleges, bringing expertise in dealing with milder and more moderate conditions, precisely to provide fast, local responses to issues as they arise. It is a huge undertaking. The teams will introduce a new, trained workforce, eventually numbering in its thousands, to provide support in the more preventive way envisaged by the young people of Ivybridge college.
The preventive aspects of our reforms do not stop there. The Department is providing up to £95 million between 2019 and 2024 to support the delivery of the Green Paper proposals, including the costs of a significant training programme for senior mental health leads, to help schools to put whole-school approaches to mental health in place.
The Ivybridge pupils emphasised the importance of PSHE to my hon. Friend. Our reforms in that area, making a new relationships and health education curriculum compulsory in all state-funded schools from September 2020, are probably the most significant preventive step of all. Health education includes a new requirement for all pupils to be taught about mental health. The aim of making the subject compulsory is to bring the quality and consistency that the pupils are calling for, ensuring that pupils are taught the right framework of knowledge to help them to lead a mentally healthy lifestyle and deal with the challenges they face.
The new subject will include content such as understanding emotions, identifying where someone is experiencing signs of poor mental health, simple self-care, and how and when to seek support. Schools will be required to teach the new subjects from September 2020, but we are encouraging schools to get under way sooner. We already have hundreds of schools signed up as early adopters, with more schools registering every day. To help schools to teach the new subjects effectively, we recently announced an additional £6 million in 2019-20 to design and develop the training and resources that schools need.
We are also building the evidence on what other support for wellbeing works in schools. Our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing research programme is one of the largest studies of its kind in the world. Thousands of children and young people will learn how to use a range of innovative techniques to promote good mental health and wellbeing.
I was not surprised to hear the views of young people that social media can be a force for good in relation to mental health—although I was impressed by the range of apps that my hon. Friend is familiar with. Social media is part of life and relationships for young people, but for it to be helpful we need to make sure that the online environment is as safe as possible. The Government’s recent online harms White Paper set out a range of measures, detailing how we will tackle online harms and setting clear responsibilities for technology companies to keep UK citizens, and especially children, safe.
We also need to equip young people with the knowledge to use the internet and social media safely, understanding how to deal with the different behaviours they will encounter online. That is why, to support the teaching of the relationships and health education content, we are developing detailed guidance on teaching about all aspects of internet safety, to help schools deliver the new subjects in a co-ordinated and coherent way.
We know that all kinds of bullying, whether in school or online, can have long-term effects on mental health as well as immediate impacts on pupils. The Government have sent a clear message to schools that bullying for any reason is unacceptable. All schools are legally required to have a behaviour policy with measures to prevent all forms of bullying. Relationships education will also include content on tackling bullying. To support schools further, we are providing more than £2.8 million to projects run by anti-bullying organisations such as the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Diana Award.
My hon. Friend also talked about exam stress, which obviously is a particular issue at this time of year, with hundreds of thousands of teenagers up and down the country preparing to sit their GCSEs, A-levels and other exams. I take this opportunity to wish all those students, including those at Ivybridge, all the very best with their exams.
I would beg to differ from my hon. Friend on one point, when he says that exam stress was not much of an issue in the 1960s and 1970s. I think that exams are inherently stressful, for any generation. Perhaps my hon. Friend has forgotten, but certainly my own experience in the 1970s was that sitting my O-levels and A-levels was a challenging time. I know that for some students that pressure can get too much and can tip over into real mental health problems. Clearly that is a matter for concern, and the support that I have described is there to help those young people.
However, for very many young people the level of stress created by exams is manageable, so long as they are well supported by their schools, families and peers. Research shows that there is a clear difference between exam stress and exam anxiety, which is a cause for concern. Recent research found that young people recognise that exams can be a time of pressure and want their school to support them, especially on how best to revise and prepare for those exams. We trust schools to provide that guidance, and there is help to support them to do so. Ofqual support includes a blog aimed at teachers and a guide for students on coping with exam pressure, produced with Professor Dave Putwain from Liverpool John Moores University.
My hon. Friend mentioned that two of the students at Ivybridge had talked about not wanting to feel that they are in competition with their classmates. He also invited me to comment on the fact that there are many successful people who did not do well in their exams. He is quite right; no student should be made to feel that their life chances are over because they did badly in an exam. However, as my right hon. Friend Secretary of State said in his recent article on the subject, not many of those people
“would say that it isn’t important to do as well as you can.”
Few people succeed without preparing and working hard. All anyone can expect of our young people over the next few weeks is that they do their best.
Doing as well as you can does not necessarily come at the expense of others, and certainly not your classmates. It is fundamental to any qualification that it tests individual performance. Each young person will take that qualification forward with them into later life as evidence of what they know and can do. I also believe that it is right to expose young people to a certain level of competition, to help build the resilience that will help them to make a success of their adult lives, but that does not mean that schools should not foster a collaborative spirit and encourage team working during the school year. Indeed, I would hope that all schools are doing exactly that.
That brings me to an element of our preventive work that is especially pertinent, given that this debate has been inspired by young people taking an interest in mental health and helping each other out. We know that young people turn to their friends and peers first when they have concerns about mental health. Peer support programmes can be an effective part of a whole-school approach to mental wellbeing, as well as in tackling bullying and supporting each other with their exams. We are working with the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families to pilot different approaches to peer support, to help more schools to develop or improve their own programmes.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend and the pupils of Ivybridge Community College for giving me the opportunity to set out just how much we are doing to promote mental wellbeing, as well as to increase access to specialist services. I hope they are reassured that what we are doing will go a long way to help schools and young people themselves play their part in meeting the challenge of improving the nation’s mental health.
Question put and agreed to.