Enhancing cultural diversity in history and geography (EYFS to Year 6)

CPD For Me

Time for me to be trained! I attended a similar event that David Weatherly and Sheena Wright delivered last year, but it only focused on EYFS. Whilst there was a little overlap today, it was good to be able to consider this important theme across all Key Stages. David is a School Improvement Adviser and an accomplished teacher at all stages of learning.  He is also author of the award winning Primary Connected History and Primary Connected Geography schemes published by Harper Collins.  David was joined for some of the event by Sheena Wright, an EYFS Education Consultant and a Local Authority Early Years Lead Adviser with over twenty years of successful teaching experience across the full primary age range.

The accompanying flyer set out the rationale for the day as:

Two-thirds of today’s UK babies will live to see the next century and one in three will celebrate their 100th birthday.  At the same time, the cultural mix of the communities in which they will grow up both locally and internationally are becoming increasingly ethnically diverse.  In this context, the day is a timely and valuable opportunity for colleagues to reflect upon how their current provision and everyday practice in geography and history supports children to investigate beyond the familiar and build an understanding of cultural diversity, both in terms of its historic legacy and contemporary richness within their own local communities, across the United Kingdom and the increasingly globalised wider world.

It also emphasised key elements of the day, namely:

  • ‘Increasing personal knowledge and understanding of the meaning and scope of the terms culture and cultural diversity.
  • Understanding the breadth of cultural diversity within Britain today.
  • Considering our personal cultural heritage and ways of living as practitioners and the influence this can have on attitudes and assumptions towards difference and diversity.
  • Recognising opportunities offered by the National Curriculum in geography and history and the EYFS Understanding the World area of learning to enhance cultural diversity.
  • Reviewing current provision in geography and history in the context of the above.
  • Identifying approaches to enriching cultural diversity including the judicious selection of content, community engagement and considered selection of learning and teaching resources.
  • Reviewing examples of enquiries in geography and history that seek to recognise the contributions and legacies of diverse cultures both over time and currently.
  • How we might approach developing a secure and positive sense of a child’s own identity and strong sense of self in the context of their own cultural, religious or ethnic family background.’

During our in situ and virtual Primary Geography Subject Leader Network meetings this week we have been touching upon ‘decolonising the curriculum‘, so some of the content and subsequent discussions that took place today were very insightful and relevant.

After a formal welcome and introductions, David outlined the objectives for the day. We then looked at what ‘culture’ is, cultural diversity and considered that we are cultural diversity too. The conversations that developed within breakout rooms were both enlightening and thought-provoking. David also challenged us to a few questions relating to the 2021 Census data (a few surprises were revealed). David referenced the EYFS statutory framework (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/early-years-foundation-stage-framework–2), with particular attention given to the educational programme, Understanding the World (UtW) and its Early Learning Goals (ELGs), e.g. people, culture and communities; past and present, to highlight its links to cultural diversity. He also did the same with the National Curriculum geography and history programmes of study at Key Stages 1 and 2 (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a7c1ecae5274a1f5cc75e97/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_Geography.pdf and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5a7c2917e5274a1f5cc762cf/PRIMARY_national_curriculum_-_History.pdf). We were encouraged to reflect on our current provision in both geography and history from EYFS to Key Stage 2. David then considered how this might be enhanced through three principles (valuing the cultures of pupils and their families; integration; relevance and context).

Following a short break, David walked us through a Key Stage 1 (Year 2) geography enquiry entitled, ‘How does the geography of Ogikubo compare with where I live?’. I found this fascinating and developed my core knowledge and understanding of Japan in the process.

Next, it was time for a spot of history; a Key Stage 2 (Years 5 and 6) enquiry based around the question, ‘How did the largest volunteer army in the world help Britain defeat Nazi Germany?’. This introduced me to an aspect of World War 2 that I did not know much about.

On our return from lunch, David elaborated on a couple of points relating to the previous enquiry before handing over to Sheena Wright to provide some background to the Early Years Foundation Stage. As stories/non-fiction books are so important at this stage, both Sheena and David provided some pointers to ensure a good selection is used.

We then moved on to consider an EYFS geography investigation centred upon ‘Travelling the Tube to see multi-cultural London’. As a family, we have had several short breaks in the capital over the years and visited majority of the areas and sights mentioned within this enquiry; it did bring back many fond memories.

David gave us five minutes to grab a drink before delving into a Key Stage 2 (Year 4) history enquiry, ‘How has Parliament changed since Britain’s first general election in 1708?’. This proved very timely with the later announcement of the next General Election to be held on 4th July 2024!

Finally, it was time to wrap up the day with a list of key takeaways. Remember, do less better!

All in all, an enjoyable and valuable training. Despite having previously attended one of David and Sheena’s cultural diversity events, it was still hugely beneficial; the conversations are different depending on the cohort of delegates and it provided many ideas and links across all Key Stages.

Many thanks, David and Sheena.

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