How we became Montpelier High School
The original name of our school, Colston’s Girls’ School, had been under discussion for a number of years, never quite making it to the top of the agenda above other priorities. A statue of Edward Colston that for many years had been located on a stairway inside the school, was covered in a shroud, a peaceful protest by our staff and students who felt that the shrouded statue sent a powerful message about how the benefactor of our school should be remembered.
Our annual Commemoration Service, which once honoured the slave trader’s philanthropy as the benefactor of the school with students wearing Colston’s favourite flower as a gesture of respect, has changed and evolved over the years. Now, ‘Commem’ focuses wholly on the celebration of our diverse and inclusive community and includes no mention of Edward Colston whatsoever.
But still, for many people, these changes did not go far enough and in the summer of 2019, the Principal and Chair of the school agreed that an authentic conversation about the name Colston’s Girls’ School had to take place in a way that involved the entire school community.
The process had begun but progress was slow because the everyday responsibility of running a school for over 940 young people always took priority - but then external events took over and the timing of this important conversation became immediate.
The Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on 7th June 2020 focused the world’s attention on our name and students petitioned our senior leadership team and board of governors to start the conversation straight away.
With the full support of our sponsors, the Society of Merchant Venturers and the University of Bristol, the Board of Venturers Trust and the leadership team of Colston’s Girls’ School, we announced plans to launch a public consultation into the name of our school.
A team of students and teachers began to develop a framework for the consultation, following a process that included consulting with respected members of the community to identify a format that would allow all voices to be heard. Students gathered research materials and resources that we hope will demonstrate to future generations of students how young people can influence change to build a sustainable and inclusive future for a global community.
Please follow these links to find out more about the consultation process, our new identity and our new emblem.