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Norwich School accused of an ‘extremely disappointing’ response from accusations of institutional racism by current and former students

A top private school in Norwich has faced criticism for its “extremely disappointing” handling of allegations of “rampant racism.” The allegations were originally raised in a letter sent to the school in mid-June.

The letter requested staff at the Norwich School to be better trained to deal with issues of racism, as well as detailing a list of alleged instances of racism against students.

One student said he was “accused of being ‘divisive’ by multiple members of staff” for wearing a Black Lives Matter badge and “forced to apologise to a racist student for ‘holding views that opposed his.’” Another student alleged that on one occasion he and a group of fellow Jewish students were sitting in the library when “a student came in waving a Swastika flag.” When the student raised his voice to reprimand the boy, he was told off by the librarian, but the student carrying the flag was not dealt with.

In total the letter bore 264 signatures from pupils, ex-pupils and parents. Now a second letter has been sent to the school, signed by 1 pupil, 17 ex-pupils and MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis, accusing the school of trying to “divert attention away from the issue” rather than addressing it. In response, the school issued a statement saying it was “strange an assumption has been made the school is not taking the matter seriously.”

On July 24 the school advertised the position of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Officer. The post read: “We are looking for a suitably experienced, inspiring individual to help us bring our equality agenda to life and supporting a culture of inclusion across the school.”

The announcement was issued shortly after an open letter, with 500 signatures, requesting more to be done in Norwich schools to address issues of racism and make incidents easier to report. 

The letter also proposes all students should be taught about racism and microaggressions in their first term, with BAME students being involved wherever possible. Clive Lewis MP, said in a post of social media two days after the letter was released, “I’m pleased to hear some schools have already come on board – and I hope many more follow.”

With regards to the Norwich School, both headmaster Steffan Griffiths and the chair of governors Patrick Smith released a statement responding to criticisms of inaction. “Our actions show that significant progress has been made quickly and in extraordinary circumstances.” They added that the school would show zero tolerance toward instances of racist behaviour.


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04/08/2020

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Jamie Hose