A primary school has been forced to apologise for asking pupils dress as slaves for Black History Month. Parents at St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School in Forest Gate, east London, were shocked when they were asked to send their year two kids into school in ‘dirty and worn out’ clothes.
Letters were sent home to parents on Friday asking them to dress their children in the costumes 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,’ it said. The letter then suggested that girls wore straw hats or fabric head wraps, and that boys wear straw hats or berets. One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Newham Recorder: ‘You wouldn’t ask Jewish children to come in and re-enact the Holocaust.’
Paul Underwood, the school’s headmaster, issued an apology on Monday. ‘I apologise on behalf of the school for Friday’s unauthorised letter and the offence caused,’ he said, adding that the letter hadn’t been seen by any senior members of staff before it was sent out.
In a further statement, 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 in keeping with the ethos of the school or a reflection of how the school celebrates Black History Month.’