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Marcus Rashford, Greta Thunberg and Malala: School abandons traditional house names for modern campaigners

Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Drake and Admiral Nelson are out

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and human rights champion Malala Yousafzai were voted in. Malala Fund/via Reuters 
Climate change activist Greta Thunberg and human rights champion Malala Yousafzai were voted in. Malala Fund/via Reuters 

A school has renamed its houses, taking out historical English heroes and replacing them with modern-day activists.

Head teacher Lee Hill said he was making the changes after a former pupil raised the issue that their house monikers brought with them the baggage of colonialism and war.

Mr Hill praised the bravery of the pupil who challenged him and pressed for change after last year’s Black Lives Matter protests demanded action against racism.

So for Howden Junior School, in East Yorkshire, it’s out with Sir Walter Raleigh, Admiral Nelson and Sir Francis Drake.

Marcus Rashford kneels in support of the Black Lives Matter. Reuters
Marcus Rashford kneels in support of the Black Lives Matter. Reuters

The school’s council, which includes pupils, voted for their replacements – poverty campaigner and footballer Marcus Rashford, climate change activist Greta Thunberg, human rights champion Malala Yousafzai and American poet Amanda Gorman, who spoke at US President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Mr Hill announced the changes on Twitter in a tweet that has since been deleted or made private.

“I'm really excited & proud to share this. Not just because of the individuals our School Council chose as representing our school community values or the incredible art from local artist Amy Smith but because of the courage of one child who made a stand,” he wrote.

“During the Black Lives Matter protests, I received a passionate and brave email from a former pupil.

“This pupil not only educated me about the history of the three house names - that sat on our website, in our hall and were raised as ambassadors for our school - but also explained the impact of seeing these figures - who have links to slavery, oppression and racism - had on her during her time at our school.

“Not only a brave email to send to a white male in a position of power but also an email that set off a chain of events.”

Mr Hill praised the pupil, who he identified only as Francesca, for her bravery in tackling him.

“In English history, all three of them [Raleigh, Drake and Nelson] have been portrayed as admirable and courageous whilst their despicable deeds have been brushed under the carpet and certainly have not been discussed in the classroom.

“To Francesca, I want to say thank you for your courage - for making a stand, for being a role model to our school community and beyond.

“For showing that each of our voices matter and that we can make a change for the better. You have taught me more than you can imagine.”

Updated: February 23, 2021 09:15 AM

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