A GCSE textbook containing stereotypes about Caribbean families has been removed from sale following criticism from MPs and campaign groups.
A passage in AQA GCSE (9-1) Sociology said that Caribbean men were “largely absent” from family situations, without providing any evidence or context to support the claim. After an online backlash, the book’s publisher, Hodder Education, said it was taking the concerns “extremely seriously” and would stop supplying the book for sale.
The controversial paragraph in the sociology of families section says:
“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 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.”
The Labour MP David Lammy was among those who condemned the passage. He tweeted:
“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.”
Weyman Bennett, a former teacher who is joint convenor of the Stand Up to Racism group, said:
“It smacks of old colonialism, describing it as a statement of fact. Racialising people’s lives is dangerous. I was a teacher for around 12 years and used to come across this stuff all the time and was told it was true as it was in textbooks.
“In the 1970s and 80s, textbooks were full of inaccuracies and stereotypes. I thought this was the bad old days. The danger is, people getting away with this. For future generations there is a lot of work to do.
“To stop selling the book is a bit too little, too late, as casual racism is a serious issue. We should redouble our efforts to make the curriculum more inclusive.”
The GCSE textbook was originally released in 2014 and an updated version, which still includes the paragraph, was published in 2017.
According to research by the lone parent charity Gingerbread, 21% of families of black or minority ethnic backgrounds are single parent families, compared with 16% nationally.
The exam board AQA said:
“We don’t agree with any stereotypes and there’s nothing about Caribbean families in our actual GCSE sociology syllabus. We don’t produce textbooks ourselves – but we’ll be speaking with the publisher of this book about these concerns, investigating thoroughly, and taking any necessary action.”
Hodder Education tweeted:
“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.”