A private school set up more than 300 years ago by Bristol slave trader Edward Colston is to change its name, Bristol Live can reveal.
Leaders at Colston’s School, in Stapleton, said the school was now a ‘very different school’ to the one founded by Edward Colston in 1710, and the events of June 2020, when Black Lives Matter protesters pulled down his statue in Bristol city centre, now meant his name would ‘forever be associated with the enslavement and deaths of African men, women and children’.
The school embarked on a long-running consultation soon after that act last summer, for which four people are due to go on trial next week in Bristol, and now have finally announced the decision made by school governors.
A statement from the school said that the consultation they began and continued throughout this year had received more than 2,500 responses, with more than 1,000 from members of the public with no connection to the school – and of those 1,000 the ‘overall opinion’ was in favour of keeping the name.
But the school said the 1,500 responses from staff, pupils, parents and ex-pupils who were ‘closer to the school’, showed ‘that they were more inclined to see a change in the name of the school as a positive step’.
Colston’s School is the last educational establishment in Bristol to bear the name of Edward Colston. In 2018, before the Colston statue was pulled down, Colston Primary School changed its name after a consultation with parents and children, and earlier this year, Colston’s Girls’ School – which is also run by the same Merchant Venturer-led organisation that runs Colston’s School – decided to change its name to Montpelier High School.
The governors of Colston’s School said they will now begin a process of deciding a new name, which will be announced in the summer of 2022.
“Colston’s School has borne the name of Edward Colston for over 300 years not because of any attempt at any stage to glorify or celebrate the man, but because Edward Colston paid for the school to be established in 1710 in order to prepare boys from ‘poor families’ for meaningful apprenticeships,” the governors’ statement said.
“His ‘hospital’, as it was called then, was established in a single house in the centre of Bristol during his lifetime and he visited the school when it was open. The school was not named after Colston, rather it was named by Colston,” they added.