Swing Low Sweet Chariot: England rugby bosses won’t ban slave-era song; will educate fans on its history

The “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” song is one of the most recognized African-American spirituals, rooted in the horrors of US slavery and the oppression of race.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the RFU said in June it was reviewing the song’s use at games, saying many fans might not be aware of its “historical context.”
In a statement released on Thursday, the organization, which oversees English rugby, said it intends to educate fans “on the history and provenance of the song as well as providing platforms for diverse voices across the game.”

“The RFU needs to step up its efforts to improve diversity and inclusion across our game,” RFU Chair Andy Cosslett said. “We are living through testing times, but this will not deter us from grasping the opportunity to better reflect the society we live in.

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England rugby bosses won’t ban slave-era song; will educate fans on its history

England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU) has decided not to ban fans from chanting a slave-era song — “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” — during matches but will “proactively educate” on its history.



a large crowd of people: Rugby fans in the stands during the Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium, London.


© Press Association via AP Images
Rugby fans in the stands during the Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium, London.

The “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” song is one of the most recognized African-American spirituals, rooted in the horrors of US slavery and the oppression of race.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the RFU said in June it was reviewing the song’s use at games, saying many fans might not be aware of its “historical context.”

In a statement released on Thursday, the organization, which oversees English rugby, said it intends to educate fans “on the history and provenance of the song as well as providing platforms for diverse voices across the game.”

“The RFU needs to

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Special needs children ‘shut out’ of school in England due to Covid-19 rules

Almost a fifth of pupils with special education needs are absent from school, according to government figures, as parents find their children shut out by rigid coronavirus rules.

According to data published last week, 81% of children in England with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) at state-funded schools were in attendance on 24 September, compared with 88% of all children.

Parents and campaigners have told the Observer that children with special education needs and disabilities (Send) are missing out on school due to problems with infection control, timetables and transport. “We’re hearing from families of disabled children who have not been permitted to return or have been put on part-time timetables,” said Gillian Doherty of Send Action. “Other children have had the provision they rely on to access education reduced or removed. The gap between rhetoric and reality needs to be acknowledged so it can be addressed.”

Children with

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A welcome boost to adult education in England

Even before the downturn and the threat to jobs created by the pandemic, England’s unbalanced approach to funding tertiary education had widened the skills gap and hindered social mobility. The system has focused on providing loans for full-time degree courses in academic subjects. While that led to a surge in graduates, it has also triggered a watering down of vocational and technical learning.

In 2000, more than 180,000 people were studying vocational or technical subjects at a higher level; a decade on it is less than 65,000. That has meant that just a tenth of adults hold such a qualification — compared with 20 per cent in Germany — even though, on average, people who hold them earn more after five years than counterparts with degrees. It has also left people in their 20s and beyond with far too few options to reskill, limiting labour market flexibility and their own

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