Letchworth headteacher wants ‘more inclusivity in history classes’ as open letter passes 150 signatures

PUBLISHED: 10:03 12 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:03 12 June 2020

More than 150 Highfield pupils, past and present, have signed the open letter. Picture: Google

More than 150 Highfield pupils, past and present, have signed the open letter. Picture: Google

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A Letchworth headteacher has responded to an open letter addressed to her school earlier this week, which called for pupils to be re-educated on Britain’s colonial past.

Caitlin Macrae, acting headteacher at The Highfield School, said in a statement: “I want to firstly thank those involved for their frank and honest approach in this open letter and assure you all I am listening and in agreement with many of your aims.

“I agree that more inclusivity should be taught in our history classes and will be actioning this support by writing to our local MP to help further push this case.

“The national curriculum is created by the Department for Education and the government. The history section provides topics and time periods that we should teach, as well as content that we could cover during these time periods, and this does include content such as Britain’s transatlantic slave trade; its effects and its eventual abolition; and the development of the British Empire.

MORE: Former pupils pen open letter urging new curriculum of racial equality

“But I am aware that the black and ethnic minority communities have contributed so much more to Britain than we are currently given guidance on teaching, and would welcome a change in the current national curriculum to better reflect these historical facts.”

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Miss Macrae also apologised for an incident referred to in the letter, in which a racist slur was directed at a former pupil in 2014.

She said: “The incident mentioned unfortunately took place before I was the acting head at this school, therefore I cannot comment further on the details of this.

“I am, however, so sorry to hear that a young person felt unsupported by the school. But what I can say is that we are school that is underpinned by our cooperative values, which includes the value of equality.

“As such we have a no tolerance policy on racism, discrimination of any kind and bullying amongst our students and staff.

“We actively encourage the safe reporting of any incidents to our members of staff and have run an annual anonymous anti-bullying survey for staff, students and parents/carers over the past two years to ensure we are hearing everyone’s voice and acting on concerns raised.”

Miss Macrae also highlighted that the school “regularly evaluates and reviews” its curriculum, policies and procedures, to ensure Highfield “continues to tackle discrimination and prejudice where it may occur”.

You can view the letter online and if you are a former Highfield pupil, may add your signature enclosed at the bottom.


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