Troy Deeney is absolutely right that we need to diversify the curriculum to better represent our society (My teacher said I’d more likely be dead by 25 than a footballer. What if I had listened?, 23 May). The books on the English literature curriculum do not represent the lives of young people. Although 34% of school-age children in England identify as Black, Asian or minority ethnic, our nationwide research shows fewer than 1% of GCSE English literature students study a book by a writer of colour.
This isn’t about removing important writers from the curriculum; classic writers will always have a place. But we must broaden the voices and stories studied. Far too few young people currently see themselves in what they read.
We know that many teachers want to make a change, but are held back by a lack of resources and low confidence in talking about race. Penguin’s Lit in Colour programme, with the Runnymede Trust, is bringing together publishers and exam boards to help provide practical support that empowers constructive and open conversations.
Society constantly evolves and so should our curriculum. Books must offer a shared sense of belonging to all children.
Lit in Colour programme director, Penguin Books
Troy Deeney rightly cries out for a non-racist school education. But how many stories of fulfilment and success does any working-class child see? If inclusivity and equality were at the heart of our British education system, all private fee-paying schools would be abolished. Whatever the Tories say, their agenda is to control the curriculum, and circumscribe the creativity of teachers. Inequality is fundamental to capitalism.