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City primary school changes name to break historic slavery link

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A school in the City of London is changing its name to remove reference to its founder and his links to the slave trade.

From the start of the new school year, Sir John Cass’s Foundation Primary School will be known as The Aldgate School.

The decision was taken by the school governors following consultation with parents, pupils, staff and other stakeholders and comes as organisations across London and the UK review the cultural legacy of colonialism in the light of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Meanwhile, Cass Child and Family Centre, which is based in the school and houses its reception class alongside a nursery and children’s centre, will change its name to The City of London Child and Family Centre.

A spokesperson for the school’s governing board said:

“We all agreed that the values of diversity, equality and fairness which are enshrined in our school are not compatible with reports of Sir John Cass’s historic involvement in the slave trade.

“Our parents and carers have been overwhelmingly supportive of that view. We feel the chosen name reflects the history and uniqueness of our school and its ethos.

“Changing the name is not the end of the story and the governing board has also approved some additional measures including furthering attempts to increase the diversity of its members and reviewing how the curriculum is delivered, to help children gain a greater understanding of all histories.”

The school is the only maintained school in the Square Mile, funded by the City of London Corporation. Its trustee is the Sir John Cass’s Foundation, which owns the freehold to the site and provides support to the school.

The foundation has announced it too will be changing its name to remove the link to its founder – an 18th-century merchant, MP and philanthropist who obtained some of his wealth through links to the slave trade.

A full statement by the school’s governing board can be viewed online.

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK.

The City Corporation has set up a Tackling Racism Taskforce to take action to tackle racism in all its forms, which is considering how best to respond to historical issues such as landmarks and street names with links to the slave trade.

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