London school drops Winston Churchill and JK Rowling from house names in diversity push

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Police presence at the Winston Churchill statue on Parliament Square, London (PA) (PA Archive)
Police presence at the Winston Churchill statue on Parliament Square, London (PA) (PA Archive)

The names of Sir Winston Churchill and JK Rowling have been removed from houses at a London primary school in a bid to be “more diverse”.

Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in Richmond has renamed houses honouring Britain’s wartime leader and Harry Potter author after footballer Marcus Rashford and nurse Mary Seacole

A newsletter announced the name changes during Black History Month after it said children had been keen to rename some of the school houses.

Churchill has been replaced by Rashford and Rowling by Seacole after a vote, the school said.

The other two house names – Attenborough and Pankhurst – remain.

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

The defacing of Sir Winston’s statue in Parliament Square last year sparked a debate about the former prime minister’s views on imperialism and race.

Meanwhile, Rowling has attracted criticism for her views on transgender rights.

In a newsletter to parents and carers on October 21, the primary school said: “The children across school have been keen to change some of the names of the school houses to be more diverse.

“The JLT compiled a shortlist and the children have been involved in voting.

“We are pleased to be able to announce the name changes during Black History Month. Churchill has been replaced by Rashford and Rowling by Seacole.”

The changing of our school's house names was an activity that our children began discussing last year as they did not feel the names reflected the diverse community of our school

Headteacher Alison Bateman

Following reports of criticism in the Mail Online, another newsletter to parents and carers on Thursday added: “We have received only positive reactions from parents about the change to house names.

“The change was entirely driven and led by our pupils and they feel proud of having effected this change and knowing their views were heard.”

Alison Bateman, headteacher of Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School, said: “The changing of our school’s house names was an activity that our children began discussing last year as they did not feel the names reflected the diverse community of our school.

“There was much discussion in classrooms before children voted for the names they wanted to change, and then the new names they wanted to use.

“It is important to us that we reflect what is important to our pupils and their families, not just through their learning, but in the environment they learn in.

“It is important that children’s’ voices are heard and this is why we supported their choice to have our house names reflect diversity, equality and the environment.

“We have a lot of support from parents, some of whom have themselves challenged us in the past about the lack of diversity in the names. We also have the full support of our Governors and the Diocese of Southwark.”

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