Iam a teacher in a state secondary school in west London where the ethnic diversity of the pupils is remarkable. My current Year 9 class, for example, includes pupils with parents from Trinidad, Ireland, Turkey, French Guina, Algeria, Yemen, Italy, France, Bosnia, Albania, India, Germany, Iceland, Portugal, Zanzibar, Lebanon, America, and Spain. Over the past few decades, this ethnic diversity has been used as an argument against the teaching of national history. ‘What relevance do Boudicca and Benjamin Disraeli have to multi-ethnic pupils in modern Britain?’ it is asked. Well, quite a lot, I answer.
So far this year, those Year 9 pupils have learnt about the birth of the British empire, the slave trade and its abolition, the American War of Independence, and Britain’s industrial revolution.