A school has cancelled Winston Churchill and JK Rowling as pupil house names for not being diverse enough – prompting a furious response from outraged parents accusing them of punishing ‘thoughtcrimes’.
Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in Richmond previously had houses named after the Prime Minister and the Harry Potter author – alongside Sir David Attenborough and Emmeline Pankhurst.
But this week it announced it was ‘pleased’ to replace Churchill and Rowling with England star Marcus Rashford and nurse Mary Seacole.
The school, whose headteacher is Alison Bateman, timed the announcement of the changes to be in Black History Month in October.
While school meals campaigner Rashford and Crimean War lifesaver Seacole are undoubtedly also worthy names of recognition, parents think the school decided to cancel Churchill and Rowling because some believe they are controversial figures.
Churchill – voted the Greatest ever Briton in previous national polls – has recently been accused of racism over his alleged inaction in the 1943 Bengal Famine in India and views on Indian independence.
Rowling has been accused of transphobia after commenting on an online article about ‘people who menstruate’, questioning why they were not just called ‘women’.
One parent told MailOnline: ‘A lot of us are quite shocked that the school authorities have decided that the contributions of Churchill and Rowling deserve to be erased from the records without so much as a consultation with parents.
‘Presumably this has happened party due to the supposed thoughtcrimes committed by these two national figures. For context, the other two – unchanged – house names are ‘Pankhurst’ and ‘Attenborough’.
‘I am not alone in feeling appalled that this cowardly action has been taken.’
Winston Churchill, who led Britain through World War II, has fallen out of favour at the school
His name has been replaced by footballer and school meals campaigner Marcus Rashford
Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School in Richmond made the changes in October
The school – which caters for young children aged three to 11 – claims pupils had asked for the house names to be more diverse.
Members of its Junior Leadership Team then drew up a list of names for possible replacements, which the children then voted on.
The school – which is affiliated to the Diocese of Southwark – announced the changes in a recent newletter.
It said: ‘The children across school have been keen to change some of the names of the school houses to be more diverse.
‘The JLT compiled a shortlist and the children have been involved in voting.
‘We are pleased to be able to announce the name changes during Black History Month. Churchill has been replaced by Rashford and Rowling by Seacole.’
MailOnline contacted the school to ask why Churchill and Rowling had been selected for replacement and by whom.
It was also asked which other names were on the shortlist and whether the diocese was consulted over the changes.
Head teacher Ms Bateman said: ‘The changing of our school’s house names was an activity that our children began discussing last year as they did not feel the names reflected the diverse community of our school.
‘There was much discussion in classrooms before children voted for the names they wanted to change, and then the new names they wanted to use.
Harry Potter creator and author JK Rowling has also had her name replaced at the school
Rowling has been replaced as a house name by nurse and race relations icon Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole: the nurse now seen as a ‘secular saint’
Mary Seacole is regarded as the greatest black Briton, a woman who did more to advance the cause of nursing – and race relations – than almost any other individual.
On the bloody battlefields of the Crimea, she is said to have saved the lives of countless wounded soldiers, and nursed them back to health in a clinic she paid for out of her own pocket.
But some historians have long complained that she has become almost as famous as that other nursing heroine, Florence Nightingale.
For decades after her death in 1881, Seacole’s story was largely overlooked, but for the past 15 years, her reputation and exploits have undergone a remarkable rehabilitation.
Every schoolchild is taught about her achievements, she is a statutory part of the National Curriculum, and for many, she is seen as a secular saint.
Numerous schools, hospitals and universities have rooms or buildings named after her, and shortly she will get her greatest tribute yet: an 8ft tall bronze statue was erected to her memory in the grounds of St Thomas’s Hospital, facing towards the Houses of Parliament.
‘It is important to us that we reflect what is important to our pupils and their families, not just through their learning, but in the environment they learn in. It is important that childrens’ voices are heard and this is why we supported their choice to have our house names reflect diversity, equality and the environment.
‘We have a lot of support from parents, some of whom have themselves challenged us in the past about the lack of diversity in the names. We also have the full support of our Governors and the Diocese of Southwark.’
Churchill and Rowling have been victims of cancel culture among a number of organisations for the past few years.
In September Downing Street condemned the ‘absurd airbrushing’ of Sir Winston’s full name from the charity set up in his memory and urged its bosses to reverse the decision also branded ‘ridiculous’ and ‘re-writing history’.
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust removed pictures of the wartime leader from its website and is changing its name to the Churchill Fellowship.
It also started carrying a statement on its website calling the wartime PM’s views on race ‘unacceptable today, a view that we share’.
Loyal volunteers at the trust said it was ‘rewriting history’ and pointed out the former prime minister has frequently been voted the greatest Briton of all time.
One said: ‘It beggars belief that the man who saved this nation in our darkest hour finds himself cancelled in this way.’
Yesterday it was announced the cast and crew of the Harry Potter movies were coming together for a reunion, without the author, JK Rowling.
HBO Max announced on Tuesday it would bring together the cast members from all eight Harry Potter films for a retrospective special entitled Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts.
The release said it would feature stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – who have not made a public appearance together since the premiere of the last premiere of the franchise, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, in July 2011, as well as filmmaker Chris Columbus, who directed the blockbuster film.
But the release does not mention the person responsible for the creation of the characters, author JK Rowling, who has been criticised for her views on transgender people.
She had been accused of transphobia after saying that only women can menstruate.