Pan-African human rights organisation Ligali complained to Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School, in High Barnet, over its use of a controversial Powerpoint presentation after a parent exposed the issue.
The slideshow, seen by the Times Series, dictates a classroom exercise in which pupils aged 13 and 14 are encouraged to carry out their own “slave raid” on the West African coast.Whoops!
Students are given imaginary tools including manacles, a whip, thumb screws and iron brands, to capture as many slaves as possible before building cages on the beaches to contain them.
They are encouraged to “bribe African chieftans” and “get them drunk to buy the slaves cheaper” or, as one slide reads, “even better, have an affair with a beautiful African girl”.
Finally, every pupil is asked to give a Dragon’s Den-style business proposal to explain how they plan to capture the slaves and what they will do to control them.Ligali, you see, found this 'morally repugnant and disrespectful'. And hey, they ought to know!
The slideshow, adorned with what Ligali described as comical caricatures and sound effects, has been used in Year 9 lessons by a history teacher at the school for the past three years.And no-one turned a hair, until...
Ligali’s action arose after one student, who has African heritage, was left “offended and humiliated” by the lesson plan, created by a teacher at the High Street school. Her mother complained, and after receiving what she deemed an unsatisfactory response from the history teacher and head of department, took the issue to Ligali.Because they specialise in, ummm, de-escalation and polite resolution of conflict, I guess?
The head teacher immediately capitulated, and rolled out the usual platitudes:
Speaking to the Times Series this week, Mrs Webster said she had written to parents explaining the situation. She said: “I felt the slideshow was clearly inappropriate and I spoke to the teachers involved but what I said will remain private.
“I’ve been in correspondence with Ligali and I think we’ve been very clear about the mistakes that have been made. The resolution was to move on in the knowledge that lessons have been learned.
“ Clearly mistakes have been made but we have acted properly and the matter has been resolved.”Am I the only person to wonder if what Ligali found so 'upsetting and distressing' about these lessons was the revelation that it wasn't 'just white people' involved in the slave trade after all, but other (opposing) tribes of black people?