Celebrating Black History Month at St Gregory’s Primary School

Reading for Black History Month

Black History Month has been explored and celebrated by children at St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School in Margate.

Pupils across the year groups have been investigating a variety of writings to give them insight into the background of the movement from an historic, cultural and heritage viewpoint.

Head Teacher Dave Walker said: “It is essential that schools are as diverse as possible to reflect the world around us.

“Black History Month is incredibly important because it teaches children about the contributions made by people from different backgrounds that helped shape the world as it is today.

“We combined our study of black history with our continued focus on the importance of reading and oracy – having the confidence and linguistic skills to make your voice heard.

“Reading is the gateway to learning.  We read every single day here at school and children who find reading hard have extra support across the week to ensure can access our curriculum. Opportunities for oracy allow children to find their voice and passion, help develop confidence speaking to large groups, and aid reading and writing. “

Debate

Pupils in Years 3 and 4 studied the children’s biography of Rosa Parks, part of the ‘Little People, Big Dreams’ series. They learned the rules of debating: how to request to speak, how to conduct themselves when speaking, how to make counter-arguments regarding the point made and how to listen respectfully to points made.

Rosa Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 where she protested against seating segregation based on ethnicity.

The children considered whether the boycott of public buses in Montgomery would have been more effective than if passengers had protested on the buses themselves. The children prepared their arguments and spoke with passion about their views.

Some of the points made were: “Rosa may have got her message to the world quicker by staying on the bus as news reporters would have investigated,” “Rosa could have put herself and others in danger by staying on the bus,” “Rosa showed braveness and courage as she knew by staying on the bus she would be arrested,” and “By boycotting the bus company, she inspired others to take action.”

At the end of the debate the children took a vote – the children believed 13 votes to 7 that boycotting was the right course of action.

Years 5 and 6 studied the book ‘March On’ by Christine Farris, sister of American Baptist minister Dr Martin Luther King, activist, political philosopher and a prominent leaders in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968

The book describes the march on Washington in 1963 that culminated in Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Pupils learned the art of public speaking and produced their own speeches that urged equality.

In Year 2 pupils studied ‘Handas Surprise’, a modern classic named one of the best culturally diverse picture books in the UK, and ‘Look Up!’ by Nathan Bryon.

Even Year 1 got involved, reading and writing about the story of ‘Elmer’, by David McKee, which is about a multi-coloured patchwork elephant who discovers that his friends don’t care that he looks different, they like him because of who he is.

Children who have been reading a great deal at home have also been winning prizes from the St Gregory’s book machine. Children are awarded gold tokens at the end of a term and can select a book from the machine to keep.

*In the UK, Black History Month happens every October and it is the opportunity to share, celebrate and understand the impact of black heritage and culture.

People from African and Caribbean backgrounds have been a fundamental part of British history for centuries. However, campaigners believe their contribution to society has often been overlooked or distorted.

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