Colston's School launches consultation over name change

A Bristol school which bears the name of slave trader Edward Colston has launched a consultation over the future of its name.

Colston's School has written to parents to tell them a consultation over the future of its name will take place during the summer term.

The independent school in Stapleton was set up more than 300 years ago by slave trader Edward Colston.

The school launched a review around the name following a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol, which saw a statue of the slave trader toppled and thrown into the harbourside.

But the consultation was suspended in January when coronavirus restrictions meant the school had to close.

The school says Governors felt it would be unfair to ask students to consider the survey questions without the daily support of their teachers and friends.

Now Colston’s School has written to parents to inform them the consultation over the future of the school’s name will be taking place during the summer term.

Headmaster Mr Jeremy McCullough said: “As the government now begins to relax the various restrictions on school life, we feel able to move this consultation forward again.

“While we cannot yet meet for assemblies, or engage in the cut and thrust of face-to-face debate in quite the way we would like, we do believe that a full and open consultation will now be possible.

“We intend to launch the formal survey in the second half of the summer term and will seek the views of students, parents, former-students and teachers, in addition to those of the wider general public who wish to comment.”

The school will launch a second consultation should it decide to change its name.

Details on how the survey can be accessed by stakeholders and the public, along with resources to promote consideration, will be available on the school’s website ahead of the survey launch in June.

It is expected a decision will be reached on the future of the school’s name by the Colston’s Board of Governors in September.

If a decision were reached to change the name of the school, a further consultation on the name will be conducted.

The community-wide consultation on the name is one of a number of areas the school says it is committed to examining, to ensure it works towards a more just, equitable and fair future for all.

Mr McCullough added: “We want to ensure that our community, including our pupils, staff and governing body, is accessible to all, regardless of race, religious beliefs, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. This is not something new to our ethos, teaching or operations. What is new, however, is that we are actively querying how effective we are at this."

To help the school reach these aims, Colston’s is undertaking a self-audit with the support of external experts, helping to examine the curriculum to ensure multiple perspectives are taught alongside valuing and celebrating diversity.

This is alongside pro-actively addressing societal inequality through reviewing the school’s management operations to ensure the school is operating as fairly and inclusively as possible.

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