Diego Bartolomeu is a young man of many talents. In seeking further information about his success in being a runner up in Pearson’s World Changer competition, I discovered that Diego is also a prize painter. For his painting depicting his support of the NHS, Diego was recently awarded the honour of a Blue Peter badge!
While proud of this achievement in painting, Diego, I believe, would rank that as secondary to the changes he has endeavoured to bring into effect in reviewing the school’s history curriculum, for which he has won recognition from the ‘World Changer’ competition organisers, Pearson.
Of mixed heritage, Diego has a white British mother and a black African father – from Angola. It was during Lockdown, in particular, that Diego’s awareness of inequalities in the curriculum began to grow. Diego took time to watch various TV documentaries, one in particular presented by John Arday, and to discover more about Windrush and European colonial enslavement. In doing so, he felt that his school education alone was not giving him a properly balanced picture of the world. Diego then took the brave step of approaching his school teachers about the issue with a view to bringing a fairer balance to the the school’s history curriculum in particular. Diego affirms that the Principal and the History Department have embraced his “forward thinking ideas and want to bring about change.” And Head of Humanities at Urmston Grammar, Dr McPartland, to his credit – rather than be defensive about the curriculum – has said: “Diego is a talented and thoughtful historian and it is a pleasure working with him and his team on developing areas of the Key Stage Three history curriculum at UGS.”
Diego even contacted local MP, Kate Green, about the issue. In her reply, Kate Green asserted that “the government is going to deny any need of a review for the curriculum,” while she and her opposition colleagues do want the curriculum to have a broader range. Her views would appear to be borne out by comments made by a spokesman from the Department of Education to the Huffpost: “The curriculum in our schools is already incredibly diverse and offers pupils access to different Black History topics across all key stages, teaching children about significant figures from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds to help them learn about our shared history with countries from across the world.” In fairness, while the GCSE and A level specifications are set in stone, at least for now, schools are allowed to determine the content of the Key Stage Three curriculum, which – of course – is why Bartolomeu has been able to see change happen in that area at Urmston Grammar.
Bartolomeu was particularly happy to win the winner-up prize as a World Changer, because – while he would have sought to spread his ideas and would have pressed to effect change anyway – as he sees it: “Being a runner up gives me more of a platform!” So I’ll leave the final words to him: “I believe Black British history should be taught all year around, to truly reflect a diverse school curriculum including all young people, thus giving a better understanding of the struggle for equality. Change needs to happen.”