GCSE textbook claiming Caribbean men are ‘largely absent’ from families is withdrawn after outrage

‘We will be reviewing the entire textbook as a result of concerns raised’

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Monday 08 October 2018 13:21
A GCSE sociology textbook has been temporarily withdrawn following criticism that it was ‘racist’
A GCSE sociology textbook has been temporarily withdrawn following criticism that it was ‘racist’

A GCSE sociology textbook which claims fathers and husbands are “largely absent” from Caribbean families has been withdrawn following outrage on social media.

The secondary school textbook, officially approved by exam board AQA, was widely criticised on Twitter for being “racist” in its description of Caribbean families.

Hodder Education, publisher of the resource, has now stopped sales of the textbook after MP David Lammy and other critics raised concerns about the reinforcement of negative stereotypes.

The textbook – AQA GCSE (9-1) Sociology by Rosie Owens and Ian Woodfield – reads: “In Caribbean families, the fathers and husbands are largely absent and women assume the most responsibility in childrearing.

“When men and women live together, it is usually in cohabiting or common law relationships that reproduce the traditional patriarchal division of labour.”

The description adds: “The family system is also characterised by child-shifting, that is, the passing of children to other relatives or acquaintances if the parents find themselves unable to take care of them. As a result, multiple women are involved in childhood socialisation.”

Critics took to social media to call for evidence to back up the claims made in the sociology textbook.

Twitter user Motherhood_rx said: “Seeing as its Black History Month... we are astounded at this text from a current GCSE sociology book approved by @AQA exam board.

“In Caribbean families the fathers are largely absent... also child shifting” imagine being in class reading this? Where is the evidence?”

In a tweet to AQA and Hodder Education, Labour MP David Lammy asked: “Why are sweeping generalisations about African Caribbean people that stereotype communities like this in your GCSE sociology textbook?

“Sometimes it feels like little has changed since I was at school in the 80s.”

Rob Ferguson, a retired sociology lecturer, tweeted: “I do think teachers and training providers should use this textbook ... as an example to students of institutional racism in education... until it’s withdrawn #WithdrawRacistTextBook”.

In a statement issued today, Hodder Education said: “We are taking this feedback very seriously. We will be working with the authors and reviewing the entire textbook as a result of the concerns raised.

“Meanwhile, we have stopped supplying the book for sale.”

An AQA spokesperson told The Independent: “We absolutely don’t agree with the use of stereotypes and there’s nothing about Caribbean families in our actual GCSE sociology syllabus.

“We don’t publish any textbooks ourselves, but we’re speaking with the publisher of this book about these concerns and we’re pleased to hear they’ve stopped selling the book while they review it.”

They added: “We’re removing the book from the page on our own website where it’s listed as a resource. We’re continuing to investigate and we’ll take any other action that’s necessary.”

Last month, a secondary school apologised after a worksheet handed to pupils featured the suggestion UK jobs were being “stolen” by EU workers.

Students at Walthamstow Academy in London were handed a booklet titled “essential knowledge” which implied Polish migrants came to Britain for “free healthcare” and “better schools”.

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