Sidmouth campaigner welcomes county council’s anti-racism proposals

Helen Matthew described the news as ‘absolutely brilliant’.


This week councillors supported a motion put forward by Ottery representative Claire Wright, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

The motion said councillors should be encouraged to ‘promote and celebrate the role and work in Devon by BAME people, past and present’.

It also supports changes to the way history is taught to children, saying that schools should be encouraged to ‘reflect on how they challenge historic and persisting racist ideas’.

The council is being recommended to write to the Education Secretary urging him to contact schools and ask them to ‘ensure that the school environment and curriculum delivery allows all students to see themselves reflected and included’.

Mrs Matthew said the issue of school education is particularly important.

She said: “At primary school level, it should be brought into the curriculum, the transatlantic slave trade and colonialism, so when children are out and about in everyday life and they see racism or prejudice, they understand where it stems from.

“I think they really need to understand where it all comes from, because if it’s not taught they’ll never really grasp what racism is.

“I think what’s happening with Devon County Council and this going forward is absolutely brilliant, it makes my heart warm, it really makes me feel progress is happening, and it’s a good feeling.”

Cllr Wright drew up her motion after working with students at The Kings School in Ottery St Mary, including especially young BAME people.

Her proposals went before Devon County Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday, September 9, and will now be discussed by the full council on Thursday, October 1.

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said that he was looking forward to the motion being adopted at the full council meeting, and Cllr Rob Hannaford said: “We do need to come to terms with the legacy of empire and slavery and it does need to be taught in schools.”