The Bristol schools that dropped Colston from their name

The toppling of the Edward Colston statue in June 2020 has been the subject of fierce and ongoing debate in Bristol since it happened. Colston’s legacy has been reconsidered in recent history, for although his philanthropy led to many buildings in Bristol being named after him, he also made a fortune from the trafficking of thousands of Africans.

This reconsideration led to three schools that bore the name of the slave trader rebranding. Some schools made the decision after the Colston Four pushed the statue into the harbor during a Black Lives Matter protest – an act for which they were acquitted of criminal damages in court – but the choice was made before.

Read below to find out more.

Collegiate school

The former Colston’s School recently announced that it will henceforth be known as the Collegiate School. Stapleton Private School was founded by Edward Colston over 300 years ago.

Read more: Colston’s School announces new name

Leaders of the school, who said it was now ‘very different’ from the school founded in 1710, underwent a lengthy consultation process to come up with a new name suggested by parents, carers and the general public . The school will be called Collégiale, or Collégiale, from September this year, in order to become “more welcoming and inclusive”.

The Colston School

Board Chairman Nick Baker said of the decision, “Collegiate not only represents the inclusive nature of the school, but how different sections of the school and the school community work together. Our kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school and sixth grade all work together for the collective good, as does the school with our parents, former students and its wider community.

The school says the governing board is clear that this change should not be interpreted as an attempt to change or deny the school’s history. Mr Baker continued: “We believe it is important that pupils attending the school continue to learn about the school’s history, in particular Edward Colston’s involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. To help with this, certain historical aspects of the school, for example the crest and motto, will be retained and explained, rather than removed.”

Montpellier High School

Colston’s Girls’ School announced that it would rename itself Montpelier High School in November 2020. The school decided to change its name following a consultation process with students, parents and staff, as well as the audience online.

Montpelier High School in Bristol
Montpelier High School in Bristol

Once the decision was made in October 2020, the school set up a working group of staff and students who presented ten potential new names to the Venturers Trust, the academy’s board set up by the Society of Merchant Venturers who runs the school, and they shortlisted Three. Staff and students voted on three different names – Montpelier, Liberty and Concordia – and three different suffixes, whether the school should be “College”, “High School”, or “School”.

According to the vote, nearly two-thirds chose Montpelier High School as the new name. Principal Kerry McCullagh announced the results of the vote during a virtual whole-school assembly and told the students that they had “navigated a complex and emotional issue with skill and maturity” and that they had “made showing respect to others throughout the process, acknowledging that there were many views and opinions that go far beyond the city”.

Cotham Gardens Primary School

The Cotham Gardens Primary School Governors were the first organization to omit Colston from its name. The school made the decision in 2018, after extensive consultation with parents, students and alumni of the school.

Cotham Gardens Primary School

Principal Alex Bell said at the time: ‘We have all embraced the new name and agree that the name and logo represent the school brilliantly. It has been a fabulous, fun and happy start to the school year and we look forward to the amazing future as Cotham Gardens Primary School.

“Parents have been very positive about it. [the name change] and everyone I spoke to was very welcoming and positive about the change.

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