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Bangor Honorary Professor to lead work on teaching Wales’ “rich history built on difference and diversity”

Prof Charlotte Williams OBEProf Charlotte Williams OBEProfessor Charlotte Williams OBE has been appointed by the Welsh Government to lead a new working group to advise on and improve the teaching of themes relating to Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and experiences across all parts of the school curriculum.  

Professor Williams is Honorary Professor in the School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences at Bangor University and former Associate Dean and Professor of Social work at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She holds Honorary Fellow appointments at Glyndwr University and the University of South Wales.  

Professor Williams accepted an invitation from the Education Minister, Kirsty Williams, to chair the new ‘Communities, contributions and cynefin: BAME experiences and the new curriculum’ working group.  

In 2007, Professor Williams was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List for services to ethnic minorities and equal opportunities in Wales.  

Professor Williams said: 

“I’m delighted and honoured to be leading the working group in advancing this step change towards integrating Black and minority ethnic history, identity and culture into the everyday learning of every child in Wales. The goal is that the new curriculum will become a shining example of resourcing and enabling broad engagement in learning and teaching with BAME contributions past and present. 

“The challenge is to ensure that Black and minority ethnic peoples have a presence across the new Welsh curriculum, so that within all of the Areas of Learning and Experience we can hear the sound of their voices, know of their experience, history and contributions, past and present. 

“This requires appropriate resourcing because we want all teachers in Wales to be able to rethink their materials and feel confident in the ways of delivering them in order to reflect this presence. It’s a very exciting prospect. In this way our curriculum in Wales will ultimately be reflective of our common experience of a vibrant, inclusive, multicultural society. 

“We have a rich history in Wales, built on difference and diversity. 

“This isn’t about adding an element of Black and minority ethnic history here and there in the new curriculum, but about reimagining learning and teaching across all the elements of the curriculum so that it reflects a Wales that is, and always has been, ethnically diverse, internationalist in its outlook and progressive in its aspirations.” 

The First Minister, Mark Drakeford, said: 

“Our diversity is one of our strengths as a nation and our many histories have combined to shape Wales today. 

“I’m delighted Professor Williams will be leading this important piece of work and I look forward to seeing the group’s recommendations.” 

The working group will complete a review of learning resources currently available to support the teaching of themes relating to BAME communities and ‘cynefin’ across all parts of the curriculum. The group will also review associated professional learning opportunities and resources. The group will be closely aligned to the review of Welsh history by Estyn, the education inspectorate. 

The Welsh word ‘cynefin’ loosely translates as 'habitat' or 'place', but also conveys a sense that all human interactions are strongly influenced and determined by both personal and collective experiences, such as through stories or music. 

The group will present their initial findings in the autumn, and a full report in the spring. 

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: 

“I’m very pleased Professor Williams has agreed to chair the working group. 

“I look forward to receive the group’s recommendations on learning resources to support the teaching of themes relating to BAME communities. 

“Wales is made up of a multitude of stories. We must understand and analyse our own cynefin, and make those connections across our communities, nation and the world. It isn’t just about history as a subject, it’s language, literature, geography, and so much more. 

“The group will oversee the development of new learning resources in advance of the phased introduction of the new Curriculum for Wales in 2022.” 

Publication date: 21 July 2020