16th October 2020 — To mark the beginning of Putney High School’s Black History Month celebrations, Lavinya Stennett, the CEO of The Black Curriculum project was invited to the school to speak to students. Putney is proud to be one of the first learning partners of The Black Curriculum project – an enterprise set up last year to address the lack of Black British history in the UK curriculum.
Lavinya delivered a brilliant talk to pupils titled ‘Walking in and on Purpose’.
She spoke of how her South London and Jamaican heritage, her high school exclusion, and how her first-class degree in African studies led her to form The Black Curriculum Project and champion the teaching of black history for all.
She said: “If you are not learning about black history, how can you set yourself up in society to be kind and compassionate… we can’t have peace internally unless we have peace and justice in the world”
She told the students how “86% of students study Henry VIII and only 9% learn about slavery and the black revolution.”
During the next few weeks Putney students will be taking part in a range of activities that bring such topics into focus, not just for this month, but for the longer term. Year 7, 8 and 9 historians will be choosing a significant figure in Black History to investigate and subsequently present on the History noticeboard. In Tutor Time, students will be transported on a tour of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee and will be listening to podcasts and TED talks on the Great Migration, Civil Rights activist, Septima Clark and other significant but lesser known figures and events of Black History. Most importantly, when Black History Month is over, Putney’s commitment to diversity and inclusion won’t be. In December, the student council will be focussing on the topic and every year, the newly appointed diversity class reps will ensure these issues remain firmly in the spotlight, every day, in every year group.
Over recent months in the context of the Black Lives Matter campaign, Putney’s teachers and leaders have spoken to many pupils and alumnae to hear their opinions on diversity, inclusion and the breadth of the education on offer at the school.
Being a democratic community is fundamental. Everyone is encouraged to have a voice and the school knows it must listen, whether it be to the views and ideas raised in the meetings of our active POCSOC (People of Colour Society) or to the thoughts and questions of pupils, staff and alumnae. The school is committed to ensuring all students receive the rich, diverse and inclusive education that they deserve.