The headmaster of a school in east Yorkshire, described by the Sun as the “wokest” in Britain, has dropped Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and even Admiral Horatio Nelson from the school’s houses.
Until recently, the houses of Howden Junior School were named after legends of Britain’s proud maritime history, but the school’s council has approved a decision by headmaster Lee Hill to discard their names in favour of progressive figures whose achievements are rather more modest.
The school’s houses are now named after Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Marcus Rashford and poet Amanda Gorman – who was virtually unknown until her fleeting appearance on the world stage when she delivered one of her activist poems at Joe Biden’s inauguration in January.
Announcing the decision over Twitter, Hill said he was “excited” to associate Howden Juniours with the “courage of the child who made a stand” – Marcus Rashford, who only came to political prominence during the pandemic for his free meals campaign is 23.
Hill suggested the driving factor was a single former pupil.
“During the Black Lives Matter protests, I received a passionate and brave email from a former pupil,” he tweeted.
“This pupil not only educated me about the history of the three house names… 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.”
Swedish teenager, Greta Thunberg came to prominence in 2018 for a simple act of adolescent rebellion: not going to school. The one-girl “climate strike” brought Thunberg global attention, turning her into a poster child (literally) of environmental campaigns worldwide.
Horatio Nelson joined the Royal Navy when was just twelve, three years younger than Thunberg when she embarked on her underwhelming escapade. A few months later he was serving in the Caribbean. Ironically, his carbon footprint would have been much lower than Thunberg’s.
According to the school, the figures were selected for the values they represent: “Community, Courage, Curiosity and Care”.
Nelson doesn’t represent courage? We think a few historians might beg to differ with that one.