Anger after primary school in Manor Park asks pupils to dress as slaves for Black History Month
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A primary school in Manor Park has been forced to apologise for sending home a letter asking pupils to come into school dressed as slaves for Black History Month.
On Friday parents and carers of a year two class at St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School were sent a letter asking for their children to come to school in “dirty and worn out” clothes for a special assembly.
“It might be an idea to not wash these clothes and stain them with tea or coffee to look more authentic,” the letter added.
Girls were encouraged to wear straw hats or fabric head wraps and boys were asked to wear straw hats or berets.
“You wouldn’t ask Jewish children to come in and re-enact the Holocaust,” said one parent, who wished to remain anonymous.
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However the school has put on a wide range of Black History Month activities, she added, including inviting poet Benjamin Zephaniah to speak to the children.
She does not think this incident is representative of the school’s general approach, but was instead the rogue actions of an individual teacher.
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“They have done a lot for Black History Month,” she said.
The Church Road school’s headteacher, Paul Underwood, today issued an apology.
“I apologise on behalf of the school for Friday’s unauthorised letter and the offence caused,” he said.
The letter was seen by no senior members of staff before being sent, he added. Another letter has subsequently been sent to the same group of parents, apologising for the original.
A spokeswoman for the school said: “We deeply regret the offence caused to our pupils and school community. This letter was sent out without the approval of the school’s senior management team or governors.
“We have written to those who received the letter to apologise and we have also spoken to the members of staff involved and taken steps to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.
“We understand the importance of Black History Month and celebrate this by studying the success and achievements of black role models.
“The content of this letter is not inkeeping with the ethos of the school or a reflection of how the school celebrates Black History Month.”