Former pupils pen open letter to Letchworth school urging a ‘re-education’ of Britain’s colonial history

PUBLISHED: 15:10 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:43 11 June 2020

More than 100 Highfield pupils, past and present, have signed the open letter. Picture: Google

More than 100 Highfield pupils, past and present, have signed the open letter. Picture: Google


Alumni of a Letchworth school have penned an open letter to their former educators, urging a new curriculum which teaches young people about Britain’s colonial history.

Over 100 signatories – all present and former pupils of The Highfield School – have written to headteacher Ms Caitlin Macrae, urging a new way of educating young people which avoids an “overly flattering view of imperialism.”

The letter, which was published on June 9 argues: “Recent events such as the murder of George Floyd have drawn attention to issues of racial inequality and injustice. In the UK, racism is still very much prevalent.

“As previous or current attendees of Highfield, we have been considering how little informed we were about these issues as a result of the lack of education we received on them.

“Part of the issue is that we were unaware of exactly how white and euro-centric the narrative that we were being taught was. We believe it is your responsibility, as headteacher, to ensure that the young people who attend Highfield are able to learn about racial inequality and injustice, colonialism, black history and white privilege.

The letter goes on to argue that as “German students are taught about the Holocaust,” so should British students be taught about the “injustices in [our] past – from its role in the slave trade, to the Windrush scandal.”

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One of the letter’s co-authors, Izzi Dickson, said: “I remember leaving history lessons in Year 7 thinking how great the British Empire was, and how many countries we had helped, and not even realising how euro-centric and overly flattering this view of imperialism was.

“We shouldn’t have to go out of our way to learn about racism. If the national curriculum isn’t changed then hopefully schools will take matters into their own hands.”

The letter’s authors also recall an incident at the school in which a “racial slur was directed at a female student.”

“No personal support or welfare provision was given to the female student, and the perpetrator would not issue an apology,” the letter states.

“There needs to be a transparent reporting system for instances of racism for BAME students and staff.”

The Highfield School has been approached for comment.

If you are a current or former Highfield student, and you would like to add your signature to the letter, follow the link here

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