Norwich School in East Anglia has been accused of institutional racism in a letter co-signed by 264 former and present students. The letter was written by three former pupils of the elite school and sent to the chair of governors of Norwich School – accusing the school of “everyday racism” and calls for “everyday racism and microaggressions awareness” to be taught in schools both for students and staff. They stated that racism was “often dismissed as jokes” by staff, resulting in the victims being accused of being “overly sensitive”.
The letter included a list of racist incidents experienced in the school from 2015 to the present day. Examples include a teacher telling a pupil he would grow up to be a “drug dealer”, a teacher mocking an Indian accent in class, one teacher even gave a child an English name “so that he didn’t have to feel embarrassed every time he called my name wrong”, as well as many instances where student’s names were ridiculed in front of the class and labelled as being “funny”.
There were also many incidents surrounding Jewish students; one student was told off for chastising a group of students who were waving a Swastika flag who were then not reprimanded, a teacher forced a Jewish student to sing Christian hymns despite the student telling them that they didn’t feel comfortable singing them since they were Jewish, and an incident where a teacher told a student the reason for their bad grades was because they were Jewish.
The letter stated that “when left unchecked these incidents can help to affirm racist attitudes that are carried into both university and the working world by the perpetrators of these actions” and that “this is just an important step to affecting real change and holding the school to account for the way their pupils and staff have treated BAME students”. The students are also calling for “a place where pupils who do experience racism can properly report it and Bystander Intervention Training for staff and prefects to help them recognise and address racism”.
The school was shocked by the letter and has apologised, headmaster Steffan Griffiths said: “the list is troubling to read, both in the nature and number of instances listed, and the school is sorry for the hurt and distress they have caused”. Mr. Griffiths announced that the school would make changes, but admitted it had a long way to go.