Schools consider changing names because of slave links

Schools are considering name changes as a result of the Black Lives Matter campaign

Catherine Lough

black lives matter protest

A number of schools named after slave traders are considering renaming themselves in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

In Camden, London, councillors are consulting on the issue after a petition gained nearly 200 signatures calling for Beckford Primary School in West Hampstead to be renamed after Beryl Gilroy, one of the first black headteachers in the UK. The school is currently named after William Beckford, who owned approximately 3,000 slaves.

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Camden Council has set up a cross-party review group to review the school's name as well as other buildings and statues linked to the slave trade.

Branfil Primary School in Upminster, London, has also said it will consider changing its name if residents felt strongly about the issue after a local university student started a petition to rename schools and roads in the area. Andrew Branfill was a sea captain from Stepney who transported and traded slaves.

And Queens' School in Bushey, Hertfordshire, has said it will rename one of its houses named after Sir Francis Drake. The Elizabethan explorer traded slaves early in his career.

The Blue Coat School in Wavertree has also said it will rename one of its houses, Blundell House, after 100 current and former students signed an open letter stating that the house's name was "nothing short of a kick in the teeth to BAME students".

Bryan Blundell, a former Liverpool mayor and sea captain, transported hundreds of slaves from Africa to the Caribbean.

And in East London, Sir John Cass Red Coat School has called an emergency governors' meeting to consider removing a statue of Cass from the premises and to rename the school.

Cass was a slave trader who is seen as a major figure in the development of the transatlantic slave trade.

The news follows recent calls for schools in the independent sector to adopt a racial code of conduct, with current and former black pupils describing "terrifying" racist abuse they experienced at school.

And tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for texts on racism to be taught in school following protests for Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd. 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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