This year’s Black History Month is especially important, considering the protests and new awareness around the subject. The Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton, London has opened up the pathways of discussion in its classrooms with an array of events: readings, talks, dedicated lessons, and more.


Black History Month at LEH started off with not one, but two informative school assemblies, each focusing on different aspects of Black history. The first was presented by LEH’s own APOC (Allies of People of Colour) student-run group, who discussed the history of Africa, Afro-Romans and some inspiring figures in Black history. Deputy Head Dr James ran the second, which focused on the recipient of the 2020 Honorary Fellow of Education: Yvonne Connolly. She was the first Black headteacher in England, having been hired in 1969. It was both uplifting that she had been recognised for her part in reaching a fairer society but revealing that this was only mere decades ago. In Dr James’s own words, “[this] time gives us an opportunity to not only reflect and think about the injustices that people of colour have experienced for so long, but to also celebrate the many achievements that black figures in our society and our history have achieved, and sometimes have been overlooked.”


LEH’s annual Senior House Debating, an event watched and voted on by the whole Senior School, has also centred around the questions that have recently become more and more discussed. The motion was ‘This house believes that Britain should not memorialise its colonialist past.’, a motion that encapsulated the debates around statues and memorials of the British Empire. “It was a good debate, and it focused around the meaning of the word ‘memorialise’ as both parties wanted more education on the subject,” says one of the debaters. In their A-level course, those taking History at LEH do learn about the Windrush generation. But it isn’t enough – there are plans to introduce more about the British Empire into the lower school curriculum.


Years 7, 8 and 9 at LEH had exclusive lesson time on learning more about Black figures in history. Year 7 took a look at migration to Britain over time and the Ivory Bangle Lady, whose burial site was evidence of affluent women of colour in York in the 14th century; Year 8, Henry VIII's trumpeter John Blanke; and Year 9, Women of Colour and the Vote. These last two topics are especially of note, as the Tudors and women’s suffrage are already part of the curriculum: the addition of the Black history aspect highlights its absence before, and the importance of bringing attention to these omissions in history.


Other extracurricular events have also been taking place, including lunchtime diversity reading clubs. The school corridors are adorned with Black-centred artwork, posters, and presentations, which will no doubt continue throughout the year. The staff and students at LEH have enjoyed and appreciated the many different ways they have celebrated Black History this month – and understand how much more education is needed. In one student’s opinion, “it is so important because it acknowledges the Black people who have been left out of history and allows them to be seen and heard.”