Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education: Keep Mary Seacole on the National Curriculum

Posted on Fri 18 Jan 2013

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education: Keep Mary Seacole on the National Curriculum
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The Race Equality Foundation is supporting a petition from Operation Black Vote to oppose proposals to remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum.  The full statement is below.  Please do sign up to the petition and pass it on to interested parties.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education: Keep Mary Seacole on the National Curriculum

The Government is proposing to remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum. We are opposed to this and wish to see Mary Seacole retained so that current and future generations can appreciate this important historical person.

Her role in the Crimea War fully justifies Mary Seacole's status as a Victorian figure taught in schools today. She was a national heroine on her return to Britain and a crowd of 80,000 attended a four day fundraising benefit in her honour in 1857.

Her inclusion on the National Curriculum came as a result of a tireless campaigning to recognise someone who had become a forgotten figure in modern times. Her proposed removal can only be attributed to a recent backlash against Mary Seacole as a symbol of 'political correctness' by right-wing media and commentators. To remove Mary Seacole from the National Curriculum is tantamount to rewriting history to fit a worldview hostile to Britain's historical diversity.

Moreover, the teaching of black historical figures is widely recognised to be beneficial to the success of black pupils and in closing the GCSE achievement gap. Indeed it is to advantage of pupils from all backgrounds in our increasingly diverse schools and society. Mary Seacole, as a Jamaican/Scottish figure, is a positive role model and is well-respected in NHS circles.

Sir W. H Russell, Crimean War correspondent for The Times, said of Seacole: "Let England not forget one who nursed her sick, who sought out her wounded to aid and succour them, and who performed the last offices for some of her illustrious dead."

Mary Seacole the only black figure to feature in the National Curriculum not connected to civil rights or enslavement and removing someone who was voted by the public the Greatest Black Briton (100greatblackbritons.com) sends out the wrong signals. We should be taught more black history not less.

We therefore call upon the government to retain inclusion of Mary Seacole in the national curriculum.

Sign the petition.