The School That Tried To End Racism

The School That Tried To End Racism: Viewers demand change in Britain’s education system

Can't leave addressing race "to chance"

Viewers are demanding a huge change to the way British children are educated after watching documentary series The School That Tried to End Racism.

The two-part Channel 4 programme, which concluded last night (Thursday, July 2), left viewers calling for Britain’s education system to rethink how it teaches our country’s history.

It followed staff and students at a pioneering London school putting pupils aged 11 and 12 through activities designed to reveal and eliminate hidden racial biases.

What happened on the programme?

The School That Tried to End Racism
The School That Tried to End Racism followed an experiment at a school in London (Credit: Channel 4)

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A test at the beginning of the course highlighted that the children – representing a mix of races and ethnicities – had an unconscious pro-white racial bias.

After the three weeks, they were tested to see if the activities – including sorting themselves according to skin colour, examining the faces in the pictures at the National Portrait Gallery, learning more about the country’s history and debating systemic racism in the UK – had changed how they think.

The School That Tried to End Racism
The students mostly eradicated their pro-white bias (Credit: Channel 4)

At the end of the program, educators put the kids through the same test they took at the start. And the results showed a “significant” change in the kids’ bias. Most, upon taking the second test, showed neutral responses.

Dr Nicola Rollock, one of the observers in the experiment, reflected on the findings. She said: “What’s key is that we have to be proactive in our efforts to educate ourselves. To improve our confidence when it comes to thinking about race. We can’t leave addressing race, and racism, to chance.”

How did viewers react?

The School That Tried to End Racism
Dr Nicola Rollock said Britain “can’t leave addressing racism” to “chance” (Credit: Channel 4)

On Twitter, viewers called for a rethink of the British education system, particularly in terms of how it teaches history.

One said: “I think that this just goes to show that we should be educated from a young age about the history of this country and the rest of the world. The good and especially the bad, so that we can all be less discriminatory! #TheSchoolThatTriedtoEndRacism.”

We can’t leave addressing race, and racism, to chance.

Another wrote: “Takeaways from #TheSchoolThatTriedtoEndRacism. 1. The school curriculum needs a massive overhaul where history is diversified and education on unconscious bias is integrated. 2. How do we unpack internalised racism? This can have a negative impact on children.”

Get the education system ‘following through’

A third tweeted: “Payment to compensate slave owners was made till 2015 #TheSchoolThatTriedtoEndRacism. The reaction from the kids is a reminder to (re)introduce history to the curriculum.”

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Someone else said: “It’s amazing to see how engaged these young people are in this history lesson. I am learning too. Time for a history curriculum reboot. #TheSchoolThatTriedtoEndRacism.”

A fifth put: “This programme broke my heart. But it also showed how schools can start a conversation. It needs to happen in schools. It’s so, so important to improving society. Fantastic programme and insight. Let’s get the education system following through now.”

“For years I have said, why does our education focus on WW1 and WW2?” another said. “We need to learn more to be aware of the past!”

What did you think of the programme? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix and let us know.

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