09 November 2021 Share
Black History Month has come to an end for this year. However, it does not mean that we pack away the display and forget about it until planning for next year. We need to keep in mind that everything we do, our collection, our displays, engaging speakers needs to include everyone and we should be integrating diverse resources automatically.
The School Library Association is proud to be a partner with Inclusion Labs whose mission is:
To embed diversity, equity and inclusion into every young person’s educational, cultural and personal development. The impact of which will cultivate awareness and activate investment in eliminating social inequality and injustice wherever they encounter it.
In a nutshell, “Educate to Activate”.
Earlier this year Inclusion Labs announced their Decade of Diversity initiative - a cross-industry coalition of organisations, individuals and schools committed to leveraging their individual and collective power to advance diversity and inclusion within the education system. It is not too late for schools to sign up to this pledge; Inclusion Lab will welcome your contribution and support you in implementing meaningful change.
The influence of school libraries needs to be included as libraries, of all places in the school, are for everyone. Make your voice heard. Ensure that you offer diverse resources for any initiative your school may be doing. You have an advantage in having access to physical copies of books to create a visual message. It may help you to make the case for additional funding if you need to increase your offer if you then ask for extra funding for this purpose.
The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education has just published their latest Reflecting Realities report. This shows an increase in numbers over the past four years, but there is room for further improvement. Although 48% of picture books in 2020 featured a character of colour (compared to the first audit in 2017 of 6%), sometimes that is a token gesture in the illustrations and that character does not have a voice. To achieve parity of the 33.9% of children of primary school age being from a minority background instead of the 8% representation in books we need to keep trying.
The publisher Knights Of have recently sent a free anthology of Black British writers and illustrators Happy Here to all primary schools. CLPE have provided classroom resources to use alongside this title.
There are other titles that schools should be looking at to provide in their libraries. The Diverse Book Award is a good start with their shortlists for the two years this has been running.
Don’t forget with regard to information books to harness the power of sports personalities in particular. Male footballers Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling, Eniola Aluko for women’s football, the athlete Dina-Asher Smith are all popular and heroes in their sports. There are other great biographies of black pioneers in their fields of science, art and literature which will inspire your students. Always have some of these available as part of wider displays and promotions.
The SLA has a ‘How to’ guide in the Members’ Resources area to support you if you’re doing a diversity audit. A Diversity Audit is when you consider what the library offers – whether this is stock, displays or speakers. An accompanying table will help you ascertain what your provision looks like and point out any areas that may need further investment.
The recent reports on racism in Yorkshire cricket and the aftermath of the last World Cup final highlighted the racism which is happening and which, in schools, we have a duty to educate our young people away from. Automatically including and ensuring our library offer is diverse will help an acceptance that we live in a diverse world of which we should be proud.
Black History Month should be a celebration of Black History, backed up by action throughout the rest of the year. If you don’t know much about black British history, or where to go for support, there are some resources below. Start now.
Useful Resources –