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Demand for free colonial history lessons spikes

Free home schooling packs about Britain’s colonial past have seen a surge in popularity.

Requests for the Colonial Countryside packs, written by author and history teacher Dan Lyndon-Cohen, have gone from one or two a week to more than 30 a day.

Colonial Countryside is a child-led project to investigate country houses’ African, Caribbean and East India Company connections, telling unexpected stories about East India Company servants, slave-ownership, African circumnavigators, black servants and Indian suffragettes.

The unique teaching tools for years five – eight are self-explanatory and require no prior knowledge of the topic.

Dr Corinne Fowler from the University of Leicester’s School of English, Project Lead for Colonial Countryside, said: “These educational materials are critically important at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement is exposing the gaps in our history curriculum. These gaps have particular effects.

“Many children leave school knowing all about kings, queens and the world wars, but very little about Britain’s four colonial centuries.

“Historians have shown that British country houses were influential centres of colonial bureaucracy and wealth.

“These lessons show how relevant empire is to many of our heritage sites, which hold some of our nation’s most dramatic colonial stories.”

The joint University of Leicester and National Trust project, is funded with £160,000 from Arts Council England and Heritage Lottery.

One parent said: “These resources are fantastic – they are easy to use and they’ve opened my eyes to some completely unfamiliar aspects of British history.

“My son loved the interactive aspect of the resources which are creatively designed and the lessons engaged him in a way I’ve not seen before.”

The pandemic lockdown and the closure of both schools and heritage sites has put a hold on some of the practical aspects of Colonial Countryside.

If you would like a copy of the Colonial Countryside educational resources, please visit www.le.ac.uk/colonial-countryside 

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