Troy Deeney is looking forward to a positive conversation with the Secretary of State for Education (James Manning/PA)
23 February 2022

Troy Deeney welcomes Education Secretary’s response to teach more diverse topics

23 February 2022

Birmingham captain Troy Deeney has welcomed Nadhim Zahawi’s response to his calls for the national curriculum to teach more diverse topics and is looking forward to a positive conversation with the Secretary of State for Education.

The former Watford forward launched a petition and published an open letter to the Government on Tuesday night urging the history and experiences of black, Asian and ethnic minorities to be made mandatory in schools.

It followed the Welsh Government doing similar with a new curriculum framework set to be in place from September where more diversity will be taught and after Deeney commissioned a YouGov survey that found the majority of British teachers think the school system has a racial bias and only 12 per cent said they feel empowered to teach diverse topics.

After the 33-year-old posted his open letter on social media, which insisted the current system is failing children from ethnic minorities, Education Secretary Zahawi replied and thanked the footballer for “raising this important issue” and stated he wanted to discuss it further.

“He reached out straight away which was something we wasn’t anticipating if we are totally honest because we thought it may need to generate more news and traffic but he has reached out, so (I’m) really interested to see if we can get a positive conversation,” Deeney told the PA news agency.

“When you put yourself out like we have with this, naturally you are expecting some good, some bad and some people saying are we still talking about this, but the response has been fantastic.

“To have the Education Minster reach out, I thought ‘wow so he has opened a line of communication that we will definitely explore’. With any conversation, as long as everyone is coming to the table with a positive mind frame, you will work an understanding.”

Deeney was speaking at Brixton Tate Library where a large section of books on black history is present but that is not always the case in schools.

The father-of-four revealed he bought books to help educate his own children further despite improvements in other areas of the national curriculum.

To have the Education Minster reach out, I thought 'wow so he has opened a line of communication that we will definitely explore'.

He added: “I found when we talked to my daughters especially, who are both seven, they are discussing open relationships and same-sex relationships at the moment which is great because I think the world is in a space where there is a lot more same-sex marriages so that is great, we need to learn about that.

“But when it came to history, they are learning the same as me. Have we not moved forward and we found we had to buy these books for the kids.

“A series of books who have Usain Bolt, Serena Williams and loads of different people from different backgrounds and fields. The kids love it and I thought ‘why do we buy them?’ We pay for the schooling but these books should be accessible at school.”

Having been expelled from school aged 15, Deeney has since completed his GCSEs to ensure he was not a “hypercritic” to his children and commissioned a YouGov survey which found that 54 per cent of 1,107 teachers polled said they believe the national curriculum has a racial bias and 72 per cent think the Government should do more to support the teaching of cultural diversity.

“We have a platform to follow in terms of what Wales have done,” he said.

“In my opinion it is not a case of it can’t be done because it has already been done and already been commissioned so it is how do we get that. It is important to tell people it is not about removing anything too.

“We are not saying let’s forget World War Two happened and let’s talk about something that happened in Africa. We want to add to that so let’s talk about what happens in China and let everyone understand.”

Deeney’s efforts for the national curriculum to be made more diverse follows fellow footballer Marcus Rashford waging a high-profile campaign in 2020 to persuade the Government to provide free meals to vulnerable youngsters in England throughout the school holiday during the coronavirus pandemic, forcing a U-turn from Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

While the Blues striker did not speak with his Manchester United counterpart, he admitted the blueprint had been set.

“I certainly used the template that Marcus used because even that issue of free school meals, I grew up on that,” Deeney admitted.

“To hear that being spoken about, it needed – horrible word – Marcus’ celebrity to push it and make it frontline because it has been spoken about for 30 to 40-odd years but thankfully he was able to get it over the line.

“I am nowhere near as famous as Marcus Rashford, but I hope with my little bit of push and with the help of a lot of people we can make a real positive change.”

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