A school is renaming a house named after a British naval hero due to his involvement in the slave trade.

Governors at Queens’ School in Bushey have come to a decision to replace the ‘Drake’ house name.

The name came from Renaissance lord Sir Francis Drake, a man who to some is a hero, but who was also a slave trader.

Following the Black Lives Matter protests around the globe, many statues of controversial historical figures with racist pasts or a background in slave trading are being torn down or removed for safe keeping.

The Edward Colston statue that was thrown into Bristol Harbour last Saturday (June 6) started demands to remove similar statues around the UK.

This is not the first time there was debate about the Drake house name, as a previous consultation in 2013 questioned whether it was inappropriate to keep the name.

But now following recent events and a popular petition with over 700 parents calling to change the name, the school came to the decision to rename the house with “immediate effect”.

A statement from head teacher Jonathan Morrell said: “In 1969, when Queens’ School was first established, our four school ‘houses’ came into being.

“The houses were used not only as a means by which to organise and celebrate students’ achievements in music, sport and other fields’ but also as a way of supporting and guiding our students, with each of the (then eight, now nine) forms in each year group being attached to one of the four houses.”

The house names established were named after poet and playwright WH Auden, scientist Sir Isaac Newton, artist Graham Sutherland and Sir Francis Drake.

Mr Morrell explained that with “more sinister sides” appearing from the previously celebrated figures, change was needed.

He said: “In particular, with reference to Queens’ School, it is now widely acknowledged that Sir Francis Drake pursued an active role in the slave trade and his success was therefore partially founded upon the suffering of thousands of black African people.

“As this information has become more and more well known in recent years, it has rightly brought the choice of Queens’ house names into question, and this has been previously addressed through in-school debates and most notably a consultation of stakeholders in 2013; on all these occasions so far the consensus had been to retain the current name of Drake house.

“But….it is now 2020. It is no longer tenable for us as a school which celebrates diversity and multiculturalism to expect students, of whatever background, to wish to have their extra-curricular, philanthropic or learning achievements congratulated in the name of a historical figure who enacted such suffering to so many.

"It is no longer tenable for us to expect a quarter of our students to wear ties and blazers on a daily basis which are associated with a house in his name. We acknowledge that this needs change.”

The headteacher admitted that the decision was complex due to staff, students and alumni being accustomed to the current names.

The house name ‘Drake’ has now been temporarily substituted with the house colour ‘Green’ until a better suited name is found next year after a full consultation.

Form names will also have substituted names. 

For now, anyone with suggestions about the future names, or anyone wishing to share their opinions about the process, is asked to email house@queens.herts.sch.uk using a valid name, email address, and stating your connection with the school.