Our Response to Racism: Updated 19 June 2020 | Epsom College
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Our Response to Racism: Updated 19 June 2020

Last week the College issued a statement outlining some of the steps we are taking in response to racism (see below).

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, there has been intense scrutiny of all parts of society, our institutions and, crucially, our education system. This College is determining what more we may do to confront racism and prejudice wherever it may reside.

The most immediate change we enacted was to remove the name Mackinder from our Humanities building. This was an important step, but there is much more to be done.

Racism is wrong, and in keeping with all schools across the country, we are asking ourselves what more we should be doing to tackle racism and all forms of prejudice.

Today, we can announce the following:

  1. Epsom College is establishing a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee. This committee will:
    • consult widely and review the overall curriculum to ensure it is appropriate for students in 2020 and beyond.
    • be integral in developing a robust Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Policy for the College. While our current Equal Opportunities Policy is important, the discussions we have conducted in recent days have made it clear that we should go further and be more explicit in what we can do to tackle racism and to support our BAME pupils.
    • review our cultural and co-curricular provision to ensure that it is reflective of, and sensitive to, the needs and experiences of our diverse community of pupils. The College will take a proactive lead in ensuring the wide array of guest speakers and performances is culturally diverse and reflects a broad range of experiences and backgrounds. We are privileged to have over 30 nationalities at Epsom and it is vital that all voices are heard, valued and feel they belong.


  1. We will ensure that all staff will undertake further diversity training. Currently, this is in place for teaching staff, but we will broaden it so that all staff benefit from the training.


  1. We have established a Black History Month Committee, comprising staff and pupils, that is planning this year’s activity at the College, part of which will see the launch of a student-led Afro-Caribbean Society.


  1. A principal aim of the new Mermaid Building is to facilitate greater interaction and inclusivity across Houses, with pupils from all backgrounds – boarding and day – coming together.


  1. We will provide further platforms for the student voice to be heard. In recent years, the College has significantly increased the number of debating activities and discussion groups, with the Darybshire debating competitions, The Wednesday Club, Outfoxed, The Philosophy Society and MUN. We seek further to embed this culture throughout the school from September 2020.


Epsom College condemns racism, intolerance and inequality. We are committed to the personal development of all within this community, both pupils and staff.

We will continue to strive to foster sensitivity, tolerance and appreciation of the thoughts, opinions and feelings of others.

We are committed to listening, to learning and to growing so that all our pupils feel welcomed, supported and valued by all members of this community.

Jay Piggot, Headmaster


12 June 2020 Statement

Excellent schools are about community and the personal development of all within them, both pupils and staff. At Epsom we seek to nurture intellectual curiosity, debate, individual thought and, most importantly, a sensitivity and tolerance to the thoughts, opinions and feelings of others within a diverse community. We strive to foster the personal development of all within this community by encouraging mature reflection and a growth mindset.

The death of George Floyd and the wave of raw emotion it invoked has given each of us reason to reflect; and to learn.

Many of our pupils are black or from ethnic minorities, and a number have begun important conversations with us about their experience of being educated at Epsom College. Pupils have talked to us openly and movingly. We thank each of you for your letters and emails, for your questions and for your desire for constructive discussion.

These are conversations that we welcome and as educators we need to make sure that we strive for the truth and follow a curriculum that embraces the truth, however uncomfortable that may be, at times. While our curriculum attempts to be diverse in its content, there is, inevitably, opportunity for revision to ensure that it is accurate and appropriately inclusive. Undoubtedly, as a community there is more that we can do to understand the views and experiences of our BAME pupils.

We are committed to listening, to learning and to growing. An expression of this desire is in the recent removal of the name Mackinder from our Humanities Building.

Our pupils raised the issue of Halford Mackinder’s troubled legacy. They spoke emotionally about how hard it is to sit in a building named in his honour. Until recently, Mackinder was celebrated as a founding father of Geography and a key figure in establishing the academic department at Oxford University. However, further research emerged in 2019 that identified beliefs and practices that fail to align with the values of tolerance, diversity and benevolence on which this College was founded.

Pupils spoke, teachers and governors listened, an uncomfortable truth was revealed; change was swiftly enacted.

As a community we are alive to the importance of listening to all voices and experiences, we will continue to endeavour to grow and adapt to ensure this is an environment in which everyone may develop, whatever their race, colour or creed.

Jay Piggot, Headmaster