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National Curriculum

Identity and cultural diversity in the curriculum

Young people can learn to appreciate and understand the complex diversity of our society through the opportunities offered as part of the planned curriculum of the school. They need to acquire a positive attitude towards difference, which can come about through a strong school ethos of valuing individuals and their contributions to the school community.

Developing the identity and cultural diversity dimension in the curriculum is an important part of the work schools undertake to promote community cohesion. Teaching opportunities can form part of what is taught through subjects, through cross-curricular activity and through other learning activities that are part of a school's curriculum. The case studies provide practical examples of how schools have approached this dimension.

Work on identities and cultural diversity may provoke extremely strong sentiments in some learners. There are a number of specific ways in which teachers can encourage learners to value diversity and challenge racism.

1.  By using appropriate resources

  • Explore how technology has transformed ways of working together to create knowledge and to share ideas and information.

  • Use images and artefacts to show diversity within as well as between cultures and groups.

  • Ensure representations of minority cultures and groups are not reduced to tokenistic artefacts and customs.

  • Ensure the choice of examples and activities provide balance. Ask questions such as ‘Am I using examples and activities that represent only one dominant culture?' and ‘Can I draw on a more diverse range of examples and activities?'

2.  By presenting a broad and balanced view of diversity, culture and identity

  • Give learners an accurate view of beliefs, practices and lifestyles of minority ethnic communities, cultures and groups.

  • Emphasise that any specific culture or group is diverse, dynamic and changing.

  • Avoid presenting minority cultures or groups as problematic or exclusively as victims.

  • Compare and contrast minority ethnic communities, cultures and groups living in the UK with their counterparts in different countries to illustrate differences within a community, culture or group.

  • Investigate with learners how minority and majority communities, cultures and groups influence each other.

  • Recognise that many communities, cultures and groups share some, but not all, values. There may be values, attitudes or opinions that are problematic for others within the same community, culture or group and for those from other backgrounds.

 3.  By challenging assumptions 

  • Question commonly held opinions and stereotypes (for example that migration is a recent occurrence in the UK).

  • Explore and highlight the influence of communities, cultures, groups and traditions from around the world on the UK.

  • Investigate and challenge how the media portrays different countries and peoples (for example at times of natural disaster, war and conflict).

 4.  By creating an open climate 

  • Use ground rules and distancing techniques when discussing sensitive and controversial issues such as racism, to ensure learners can contribute ideas, listen to and respond to what others say, challenge ideas they do not agree with and reflect on what they have learnt.

  • Avoid making any individual or group feel uncomfortable about who they are or the background they have, through careful management of discussion points.

  • Encourage learners to take pride in their identity and culture including their nationality, faith and family traditions.

  • Encourage learners to use their experiences of art, literature, music, film and artefacts from different cultures to explore their own values, ideas and identity.

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