October 30, 2023
Black History Month 2023Every October, Britain comes together to mark Black History Month (BHM); an important opportunity to celebrate and recognise the invaluable contributions of black people to society.
The Lionheart Educational Trust is made up of 14 schools situated in Leicester and Leicestershire, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country. In fact, the Census of 2021 revealed that around 60% of Leicester/Leicestershire residents are from ethnic minority groups which includes black people and those of African or Caribbean descent.
So, having a wonderfully diverse school population, we welcomed the opportunity during Black History Month to celebrate the positive influences black people have had on society throughout history.
Here’s a round-up of a selection of Lionheart Schools’ BHM activity in 2023:
The Newbridge School, Coalville
Gathering students together in assemblies across BHM enabled multiple opportunities to support students’ understanding.
“Students learnt how, throughout history, black women have been at the forefront of social justice movements, courageously battling oppression and advocating for change,” explained Mr Gamble, one of the school’s Co-Headteachers.
“Black History Month 2023 provides a significant opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding achievements of black women by focusing on their accomplishments.”
Each subject then focused on a specific black woman and students had the opportunity to delve deeper into their backstories and learn more about their accomplishments and contributions.
“We believe that learning about the lives and accomplishments of these incredible women can be inspiring and educational for our students,” Mr Gamble added.
Beauchamp College, Oadby
Music filled air in tutor time at the start of each school day in October as students were greeted to a ‘Tune of the Day’ from a popular black British artist – one example being Stormzy’s ‘Blinded by Your Grace.’ Music was accompanied by a brief biography of a historic black figure and a ‘Quote of the Day’ from an iconic African/African-Caribbean individual; further examples included author Malorie Blackman and Civil Rights Activist Coretta Scott King.
Students learned about subject-specific black people in lessons, whilst a variety of multi-cultural cuisine was served up in the refectory. The school also hosted an ‘Open Mic Night,’ held a Black History Month-themed House Quiz and displayed posters of important black British women around the school; one example being Mary Seacole.
Sir Jonathan North Girls’ College, Knighton
Students enjoyed an illuminating visit from Patrice Lawrence, an author of Italian and Trinidadian descent, who wrote the ‘Elemental Detective Series.’ She signed copies of her books and spoke to the Year 7 students about growing up and her journey to becoming a black author in the UK. Patrice also spoke about her continued motivation to write about characters of mixed heritage; doing so to celebrate diversity and to also detail the experiences these individuals can face.
Additionally, the school introduced a reading list and promoted a range of books that were either written by black authors or focused on black characters. The list contained works scribed by Marcus Rashford, Jewell Parker Rhodes and Victoria Princewill.
Brocks Hill Primary School, Oadby
Pupils enjoyed educational assemblies which included a selection of the ‘Little People Big Dreams’ book collection by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara. Aimed at Key Stage 1 children, these short presentations focused on the lives of inspirational black women; the pupils loved learning about the likes of Rosa Parks and Michelle Obama.
Furthermore, a stunning display of recommended reading books was created by the themed tree in the school’s newly-refurbished library, whilst Year 6 students enjoyed learning about the influence of black people during World War Two.
The Cedars Academy, Birstall
In their whole-school assembly, Mr Fidler explained the importance behind this year’s theme; ‘Saluting Our Sisters.’ He highlighted the huge impact black people had on British culture, noting their influence on music – introducing a range of genres including Jazz and R&B – fashion, health and the wider media.
A competition invited students to write a poem centring on a black woman and emphasising their story. The overall school winners will be crowned next month before being entered into a regional and then national competition.
Humphrey Perkins School, Barrow upon Soar
Highlighting the ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ theme, Mrs Hopkinson emphasised the significant impact a range of black women have had on various sectors of society via a series of assemblies. Examples included Olympic Gold Medallist Nicola Adams for sport, Dianne Abbott MP for politics and Mary Prince for literature.
Throughout the month, students were also encouraged to read books from the Lionheart Literary Canon; specifically, ones that celebrated diversity e.g. Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard and Black and British by David Olusoga.
As Black History Month draws to a close, we know that so many more Lionheart students have a greater understanding of black history, having engaged with the topic maturely and compassionately.