A Bristol independent school founded by Edward Colston will soon cease to bear his name.
Colston’s School, established by the slave trader in 1710, will announce its new name next summer, following discussions with students, former pupils, parents and staff.
The school said the move had been prompted by the events of June 2020, when the tearing down of Colston’s statue in Bristol became the focal point of Black Lives Matter protests across the globe. Consultations over a possible name change began a year later, when views were sought from both the school community and the wider public.
The survey generated distinctly varying responses from the 2,502 people who replied. While 81% of the 1,096 responses from the general public called for the Colston name to be kept, those closer to the school were more inclined to disassociate themselves from the deputy governor of a company that oversaw the transportation into slavery of an estimated 84,000 Africans, of whom around 19,000 died en route.
“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,” said chair of the board of governors, Nick Baker.
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 – Nick Baker, Colston’s School
“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 teaching of the transatlantic slave trade and the role of Edward Colston in Bristol’s history will remain part of Colston’s School’s curriculum, said the board.
“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,” said headmaster Jeremy McCullough.
The independent school is the last educational establishment in Bristol to remove Colston links from its name.
In November 2020, five months after the statue’s removal, Colston’s Girls’ School announced that it would be henceforth known as Montpelier High School. Colston’s Primary School had already opted to drop the name, becoming Cotham Gardens Primary School in September 2018.
Other establishments in the city to change their name since the toppling of the statue include the Colston Hall (now Bristol Beacon) and Colston Tower (now Beacon Tower).