School in Bristol to change its name after toppling of slave trader Edward Colston's statue

Colston's School is private school in Stapleton, Bristol. Credit: Colston's School

A private school in Bristol founded by Edward Colston is to change its name more than a year after a statue of the slave trader was torn down during a Black Lives Matter protest.

Colston's School has said it will announce its new name in the summer of next year, after students, former pupils, parents and staff have all been involved in choosing it.

The independent school in Stapleton was set up more than 300 years ago, in 1710, by slave trader Edward Colston.

The school launched a consultation over the future of its name in May of this year - almost a year after a statue of Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into the harbour in Bristol.

A number of schools and venues connected to Edward Colston changed their name in the wake of the toppling.

The former Colston's Girls' School is now known as Montpelier High School while what was Colston Hall is now known as the Bristol Beacon.

A statement from Colston’s School issued today (December 6) said: “The name Colston has become a symbol of the city’s extensive links to slavery and will forever be associated with the enslavement and deaths of African men, women and children.” 

A statue of Edward Colston was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bristol in June 2020.

It said it had 2,500 responses to its survey, with around 1,000 of those coming from members of the public.

It added: “Their overall opinion being in favour of retaining the name. 

“However, analysis of the feedback of those respondents who were closer to the school, such as current pupils, more recent former pupils and staff, showed that they were more inclined to see a change in the name of the school as a positive step.”

The school’s board says the teaching of the transatlantic slave trade and the role of Edward Colston in Bristol’s history will remain a “key part” of the school’s curriculum. 

Chair of governors at Colston’s School Nick Baker said: “After a lengthy period of consultation, consideration, and reflection, it became clear that those with a closer connection to the school, would prefer to have a name that was more relevant for the pupils and staff of today and tomorrow. 

“It is hoped that a new identity will do more to reflect the values and ethos that the school stands for today and to make it even more welcoming to the local community it serves.” 

The school’s headmaster Jeremy McCullough said: “It is an exciting new chapter for the school, and I am proud of our pupils and staff for engaging in this complex discussion and for being a part of the future they want to see.”