School drops Winston Churchill and JK Rowling as house names after student body brands wartime PM a ‘racist’ and Harry Potter author a ‘bully’ in letter to parents about why they are no longer ‘suitable’
- Seaford Head School in East Sussex sent a note to parents announcing the news
- It said Sir Winston Churchill and JK Rowling did not represent their views
- The war hero PM and literary success story’s two names have now been dropped
- A parent said the achievement of defeating Hitler ‘surely deserves celebration’
A school has dropped Winston Churchill and JK Rowling as house names after students said they did not think they represented them.
Stunned parents with children at Seaford Head School in East Sussex received the letter this week slamming both famous figures.
The note – which was marked as being from students – said wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was ‘a figure who promoted racism and inequality, unfairly imprisoning and torturing many’.
It then turned its attention to Harry Potter author JK Rowling, saying it did not think she was a suitable representative following her comments on the trans community.
One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘I am surprised about Winston Churchill, I think we do need to honour his achievements in history.
‘He helped us fight back the evil of Hitler’s Nazi Germany – surely he deserves to be celebrated for this.’
Sir Winston Churchill and JK Rowling will no longer be names used for the schools houses
Seaford Head School’s house system was dreamed up in 2016 and based on four icons
Seaford’s house system was introduced in 2016 and still shows Churchill and Rowling on the school website.
The former PM’s group has the motto ‘Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm’, a quote generlaly attributed to the WWII PM, although it cannot be found in his writing or speeches.
Meanwhile the world-famous British author’s section carries the phrase ‘It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be’, which is said by Harry Potter character Dumbledore in The Goblet of Fire book.
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Who’s in charge of Seaford Head School?
Seaford Head School is led by head teacher Bob Ellis.
He is a union rep for ASCL association of school and college leaders.
In 2017 the school made headlines with girls were sent home from school when their skirts were deemed too short.
In 2019 Seaford celebrated its 80th anniversary, with the teacher declaring ‘We enjoy a privileged position in the local community’.
The school trumpets their achievements, stating ‘The icons that these houses are named after perfectly represent the ethos of our school (chosen by the school council), a set of values that we hold as important and central to our beliefs.’
Pupils can even get their house colours put above their school badge on their uniforms.
But the pair have now fallen out of favour with pupils and leaders at the former college.
The letter read: ‘Churchill could be considered an important historical figure.
‘However, we are now more aware that Churchill was a figure who promoted racism and inequality, unfairly imprisoning and torturing many.
‘Furthermore, as a school committed to stopping bullying and creating a safe environment, we no longer think that JK Rowling is a suitable representative, because of her recent words about the trans community.
‘Intolerance and discrimination are treated very severely by our school and we do not want to promote anyone or anything that encourages such prejudice.
The website of the school still shows the old houses and their corresponding famous names
Churchill’s most inspiring speeches
Churchill’s first speech as premier to the House of Commons
‘I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.’
‘We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.
‘You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.
‘You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.’
Extract from his first broadcast as PM to the country on May 19, 1940.
‘I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our Empire, of our allies, and, above all, of the cause of freedom . . .
‘It would be foolish . . . to disguise the gravity of the hour. It would be still more foolish to lose heart and courage or to suppose that well-trained, well-equipped armies numbering three or four millions of men can be overcome in the space of a few weeks, or even months…
‘Side by side, unaided except by their kith and kin in the great Dominions and by the wide empires which rest beneath their shield — side by side, the British and French peoples have advanced to rescue not only Europe but mankind from the foulest and most soul-destroying tyranny which has ever darkened and stained the pages of history.
‘Behind them — behind us, behind the armies and fleets of Britain and France — gather a group of shattered states and bludgeoned races: the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the Dutch, the Belgians — upon all of whom the long night of barbarism will descend, unbroken even by a star of hope, unless we conquer, as conquer we must; as conquer we shall.’
Extract from his Commons speech on June 4, 1940, after the evacuation of 338,000 Allied troops from Dunkirk.
‘Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.
‘We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.’
Extract from his Commons speech on June 18, 1940.
‘Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
‘But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.
‘Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’
‘For these reasons, the student body and leadership team have decided to change the names of the houses, so that the house system reflects the local community, and so that each house can create a new collective identity based on shared values.
‘To instill more positive values, and to bring the community together, the house names will be changed to local landmarks.’
The school’s houses are currently named after famous historical, political and cultural figures.
It is understood that the houses named after Florence Nightingale and Nelson Mandela will not be changed in any way.
But a decision has been made by Seaford Head’s student body and leadership team to change these names, with it proposed that the houses will now be named after nearby geographical locations instead.
Possible new names include: Tide Mills House, Cuckmere Haven House, Friston House, Birling House, Beacon House, Hindover House, Blatchington House and Westmeston House.
The new names will be decided through a student vote.
East Sussex County Council said it would not be commenting on the matter.
Richard Toye, author of Churchill’s Empire, wrote that Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was advised not to appoint Churchill on account of his outdated views.
Meanwhile, the war-time leader’s doctor is reported as having said that ‘Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin’ when considering other races.
And the book ‘Debunking the Myths of Colonisation: The Arabs and Europe’, contains a quote from Churchill in his testimony to the Palestine Royal Commission
He is reported as saying: ‘I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia.
‘I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.’
But former Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, has previously defended his relative.
In 2015 he is recorded as saying: ‘You’re talking about one of the greatest men the world has ever seen, who was a child of the Edwardian age and spoke the language of (it).’
Harry Potter author JK Rowling was criticised after making a series of Tweets last summer.
She was accused of being ‘transphobic’ after taking issue with an article which used the phrase ‘people who menstruate’.
In a post on social media, she said: ‘People who menstruate.
‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people.
‘Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’
It was argued that ‘trans men who have not transitioned still menstruate’ and ‘women are not defined by their periods’.
Stars of the Harry Potter series including Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson were among those to condemn her comments.
Emma Watson said: ‘Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.’
Following criticism of her Tweets, JK Rowling responded in a lengthy blog post.
She said she had ‘followed the debate around the concept of gender identity closely’ for several years and listed five reasons why she had felt the need to ‘speak up’.
These included her charity, the Volant Charitable Trust, which ‘helps fund charitable causes in Scotland, with an emphasis on women and children’s issues’.
She also said her former role as a teacher led her to have an ‘interest in both education and safeguarding’.
She added that her position as a ‘much-banned author’ in some parts of the world meant she was ‘interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it’.
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