The Pedagogical Elephant in the Room

Historical and Pervasive Trauma Experience by Black Children in Education

By Katherine O Garro

18th November 2019



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In the advent of Britain’s 1948 mass importation of  Caribbean migrants, the academic attainment of African and African Caribbean children in Britain has been subject to much debate. It has inspired a large amount of research, from Bernard Coard’s seminal ‘How the West Indian Child is made educationally subnormal in the British Education System’  to the 1979 Government led inquiry into “Causes of Underachievement” of African Caribbean pupils. Missing from the public discourse are issues of trauma and the detrimental impact that histories and systems of class, racism and sexism have had on these children. This paper addresses the psychological impact that race and identity have on the mental and emotional health of students and teachers. It proposes ways in which we can acknowledge, recognise and accept our need to find ways of providing redemptive healing for the unresolved historical, trans and intergenerational trauma experienced by African and African Carribean children.


About Author

Katherine is Lead Coach at Rivers Coaching, an educational charity that provides classroom-based coaching to teachers teaching in economically and resource-deprived communities.