Decolonising History

Curriculum reform and teacher training

Researchers: Claire Alexander, Sundeep Lidher, Rashida Bibi

Building on a decade of award-winning work on developing an inclusive history curriculum, in partnership with the Runnymede Trust (, this project has two strands: firstly, exploring the existing and newly emerging initiatives around decolonising the history curriculum in schools, working with key institutions and stakeholders from across the education sector; secondly, examining the role of teacher training in implementing effective change in the classroom.   


Briefing 'Making History Teachers: The role of teacher training and teacher education'

Authors: Sundeep Lidher, Claire Alexander and Rashida Bibi

  • In the wake of Black Lives Matter and the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and teacher trainers have expressed a strong commitment to developing a more inclusive curriculum and changing pedagogic practice to tackle entrenched racial inequity in schools.
  • While barriers for teachers have long been recognised, there has been little focus on the crucial role of teacher educators and teacher training in developing a diverse profession, practice and curriculum.
  • Initial Teacher Education (ITE) provision is increasingly fragmented and marketised. Within this ‘chaos’, the key concerns of teacher educators included: subject knowledge being deprioritised, a lack of monitoring, the quality of in-school training, and intellectual freedom being eroded.
  • There are a number of constraints in the teacher education space, including lack of time, ‘tick-box’ approaches to ‘diversity’ work, gaps in trainers’ subject knowledge, and lack of Black and minority ethnic representation among teacher educators/trainee teachers.
  • In schools, significant constraints were identified, including other issues being prioritised, teacher apathy or resistance, limited time for innovation, lack of training and guidance in teaching ‘difficult’ or ‘sensitive’ subjects, and the need for accredited, high-quality continuous professional development (CPD) for all teachers.
  • School-based mentors are key to supporting the transition from ITE to in-school teaching. However, this requires a commitment to partnership working, to training and support from mentors who are suitably recognised and remunerated, and to developing a more diverse mentoring cohort.


Making History Teachers: The role of teacher training and teacher education

Article: 'Reframing British history: teacher education after BLM'

Reframing British history: teacher education after Black Lives Matter by Sundeep Lidher, Claire Alexander and Rashida Bibi in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Oct 2023. 

The Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests have given renewed impetus to campaigns against racial inequality. In education, the issue of curriculum – and particularly the history curriculum – has been at the centre of campaigns to “decolonise the curriculum”. While barriers to the teaching of “diverse” British histories in England’s classrooms have long been recognised, relatively little research has been done on the crucial role of history teacher educators and teacher training in developing a diverse profession, practice, and curriculum. This paper seeks to address these gaps through analysis of interviews with history teacher educators, trainee history teachers and key stakeholders. In particular, it explores the responses of history teacher educators to recent calls for curriculum reform, charts how these demands for change have influenced thinking and practice in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in history and identifies ongoing challenges to the development of more inclusive curriculum and pedagogic practice.

Decolonising history and migration podcast

In this podcast Rashida Bibi discusses migration with guests, and Oldham residents, Roger Ivens, a Local Studies Officer, and Mohammed Ashraf who moved to the town from Pakistan in the 1950s. They discuss migration from South Asia to former mill towns, such as Oldham, a key example of Britain’s long history of contact with other cultures, how this has shaped the nation's story, and the importance of oral history interviews as a way to mark and preserve this important piece of history.