Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School

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Statement from the Headmaster: Black Lives Matter

I received yesterday (15 June) a letter from pupils and some parents, past and present, at the Vaughan.  It raises questions about the content of the History curriculum with suggestions as to how it could be changed to shine a greater light on Britain’s role in colonial rule in the past and so help to fight racism in society today.  It goes on to suggest that the course-content of other subjects could be similarly altered.

It is therefore important for everyone to know where I and the school stand on this issue.  Let me begin by stating the obvious: racism is an objective moral and social evil.  There can be no defence for it, and so there is no place for it.  No good can ever come of it, as the shocking murder of George Floyd so hideously shows.  We at Cardinal Vaughan seek, in the words of Cardinal Manning, the formation of the whole person: intellect, heart, will, character and soul.  Racism stunts any such formation.  That much is unarguably clear. 

But racism takes various forms.  It is not enough simply to condemn and combat its obvious manifestations; we need also to identify and address its more insidious, hidden and systemic operations.  And to this extent, the curriculum itself becomes a tool for moral good in addressing the current regressive status quo.

I attach below a list of some of the topics currently taught by the History Department; this is a fuller description than the broader overview on the website and so might be instructive.  It will be clear that these topics do not represent a gilded, monochrome, romantically white-centric vision of Britain’s past.  The question is whether they go far enough to address the problems of our current age.  They are a good start and a clear advance on the past (the Sociology curriculum, also included below, explicitly addresses such issues), and we can go still further.

All schools are required to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equal opportunities and foster good relations and must publish information demonstrating how they are doing this.  Additionally, schools must have objectives in these areas.  The directors of the Vaughan are due to review the school’s Equality Objectives at their next meeting in July.  When they do, they will take account of all aspects of provision for BAME pupils, including the content of the school curriculum (in all subjects, of course, and not just History), and will do so in a purposeful and progressive way.  It is a responsibility which they, and I, welcome and embrace.

Paul Stubbings


History Curriculum

KS3 History

KS3 schemes of work at Cardinal Vaughan include the following lessons:

Civil War – Cromwell in Ireland

The industrial revolution and the slave trade

The British and racism: slave ships

The British and racism: plantations

Abolition of slavery

Rise of dictatorships: Italy – Mussolini and Abyssinia

Causes of WW2: failure of the League of nations – Mussolini and Abyssinia

The Holocaust

Concentration camps


Final solution and death camps


In addition to lessons in school, the department runs a four-day activity trip in July – London Through The Ages.  Over the past three years we have visited numerous sites and museums including:

Museum of London

The pupils were able to visit the exhibitions that explore and celebrate London’s diversity including the roots of the Caribbean, Irish, Italian and Jewish communities.  They also visited the exhibition on slavery in London and the sugar trade and slavery.

Imperial War Museum

Including exhibitions on the role of empire and commonwealth troops over the 150 years.  This includes the role of the West Indies Regiment in WW1 and the role of empire and commonwealth troops during the Battle of the Somme.

Churchill War Rooms

The Second Boer War and Churchill’s role and actions in South Africa

National Maritime Museum

The pupils visited the exhibition on Tudor and Stuart seafarers which focus on the exploration and colonisation of the ‘New Worlds’ and the devastating impact this had on the indigenous communities who lived there.


GCSE History

As part of the GCSE course the pupils are taught the following:

Changing definitions of crime: race crime

New opportunities for old crime: people trafficking

Tensions in Whitechapel c. 1870-1900 – immigration and Anti-Semitism

Nazi Germany: treatment of minorities

Elizabethan England: exploration and voyages of discovery, attitudes to other civilisations and cultures, establishment of Nova Albion and treatment of Native Americans by white settlers, Native American resistance

The department also runs a four-day residential trip to Berlin where the pupils visit Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum (the former Oranienburg concentration camp).


A-Level History


Britain 1900-1951 

  • The Balfour government policies regarding the Chinese slavery issue in South Africa
  • The impact of British actions during the Boer War on the 1906 election
  • Tensions in the new mandates post WW1
  • The policies and actions of Britain in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Somaliland and how this impacted on the 1923 general election
  • The Amritsar Massacre
  • The growth of fascism in Britain and the establishment of the BUF
  • Government reactions to the actions of Mussolini in Ethiopa


Civil Rights in the USA: 1865-1992 

African American civil rights

  • The position of African Americans in 1865
  • Reconstruction, white reaction and discrimination
  • The role of African Americans in gaining civil rights
  • The roles of Federal (Presidents, Congress and Supreme Court) and State governments in the struggle
  • The importance of organisations in the development of civil rights
  • Opposition to civil rights
  • Civil Rights by 1992
  • In-depth study 1: Should the Gilded Age simply be seen as a period of reaction and lack of progress in African American civil rights?
  • In-depth study 2: How much did African Americans benefit from the New Deal?
  • In-depth study 3: How far did Black Power promote the cause of African American Civil Rights?

Trade union and labour rights

  • Treatment and exploitation of immigrant workers 1865-1992
  • Union unity and ethnic divisions: discrimination towards African Americans and immigrant worker 1865-1992
  • A Philip Randolph and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) union
  • Impact of the New Deal on African American and Hispanic workers
  • Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW)
  • In-depth study: Did the Black Power movement help to improve the position of workers?

Native American civil rights

  • The position of Native Americans in 1865
  • The impact of the Plains Wars (1854-1877)
  • Federal government attitudes and actions: Reservations, allotment policy, the termination policy, the presidencies of Ford & Nixon and the restoration of native sovereignty
  • Native American civil rights leaders and organisations
  • In-depth study: To what extent did the Native Americans benefit from the Gilded Age?
  • In-depth study: Did the New Deal improve the position of Native Americans?
  • In-depth study: To what extent did the Black Power movement influence Native American protest?

Women and civil rights

  • Women in the abolition movement
  • African American women – employment discrimination and wage differentials
  • The actions of African American women in the fight for civil rights: Ida B Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Rosa Parks, Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, Daisy Bates, Elaine Brown, Kathleen Cleaver
  • In-depth study: How far did the New Deal improve the economic status and position of women?
  • In-depth study: What was the relationship between Black Power and women’s rights?


GCSE Sociology

 The following topics are taught which focus on inequality: 

  • New Right ideas about society & criticisms– Reagan, Charles Murray
  • Race and ethnicity: racial prejudice and discrimination
  • Ethnicity and educational achievement: statistics on achievement, internal and external factors affecting achievement of minority ethnic groups
  • Social control in society: Jim Crow laws and segregation in the USA, apartheid in South Africa
  • Institutional racism in the criminal justice system
  • The murder of Stephen Lawrence
  • Social stratification: ethnicity, gender & social class
  • Social stratification: slavery, the caste system
  • Ethnicity and life chances
  • Power relationships: ethnicity


A-Level Sociology

Lower Sixth

  • Diversity and identity
  • Inequality in society – ethnicity, gender, social class and age
  • Migration: the history of migration to the UK with particular focus on the 1950s – 1970s
  • Migration: the Windrush generation
  • Ethnic differences in educational achievement: external factors and internal factors
  • The ethnocentric curriculum, institutional racism, selection and segregation

Upper Sixth

  • Religion and social protest: the American civil rights movement, Liberation theology
  • Ethnicity and religiosity: cultural defence and cultural transition
  • Ethnicity and criminalisation
  • Ethnicity, racism and the criminal justice system
  • Explaining ethnic differences in offending: Left realism & criticisms
  • Explaining ethnic differences in offending the Neo-Marxist approach: Gilroy and the myth of black criminality, Hall et al and the policing the crisis study
  • Ethnicity and victimisation
  • The media and moral panics:  Stuart Hall and the moral panic over black ‘muggers’ in the 1970s
  • The global criminal economy: people smuggling, people trafficking, sex tourism
  • Globalisation, capitalism and crime: the Bhopal disaster, the Dhaka garment factory collapse 2013
  • State crimes: torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib
  • Explaining state crime: crimes of obedience (My Lai massacre in Vietnam)
  • Social and community crime prevention: the Perry pre-school project for disadvantaged black children in Michigan
  • Surveillance: racial profiling and airport security screening checks
  • The USA and mass incarceration: the black prison population
  • Ethnicity and victimisation