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Newark town councillor hits back at MP Robert Jenrick's remarks over William Gladstone school name change

A town councillor has hit back at Newark MP Robert Jenrick’s comments over the William Gladstone school change of name.

The name change, to The King’s Church of England Primary Academy, coincided with the black lives matter protests. Sir William Gladstone’s family had links to the slave trade.

Mr Jenrick described the former Newark MP and Prime Minister as one of the greatest figures of the 19th Century, and said the name change was an attempt to distort history.

Councillor Jane Olson is pictured on the right.
Councillor Jane Olson is pictured on the right.

However, Jane Olson, a member of Newark Town Council, wrote to Mr Jenrick saying: “Instead of supporting the school’s new-found optimism for their future and those of their students, or sharing their pride in their values, aspirations and inclusivity, you publicly castigate the management team and governors for the name-change. Why is this?

“Your use of language indicates the citing of the links with William Gladstone’s family to the slave trade as being merely a ‘pretext’ for the decision. What do you believe is the real reason?

“What is your intention in promulgating such cynicism and negativity when we are all currently without exception in dire need of deep healing and positivity?

Robert Jenrick. Credit: Number 10. (43492305)
Robert Jenrick. Credit: Number 10. (43492305)

“You claim that history has been distorted: I would argue the opposite is true.

“By permitting scrutiny of our collective history through the lens of the 21st Century, knowing what we are only just beginning to understand, we are better placed to hear and honour the unheard voices; those of countless numbers throughout history who were not afforded the privilege of position, race or gender to be heard and recorded in the history books.

"It is now time to hear them and make more informed decisions for our future together.

“I knew little of William Gladstone prior to the blacklivesmatter protests of the summer. Given what I have learned since, I wonder how we weigh up a person’s achievements measured against the circumstance of birth.

"In the words of the Grand Old Man himself some of us ‘look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power.’

“It seems we still have some way to go to achieve the peace he speaks of, but honouring the decision of the school to change their name, and marking it as a positive step towards raising their game and aligning with their Christian values, would be a good place to start.”

The primary school approved the name change after months of consultation with trustees and governors.

The school set out a vision it said more accurately reflected its ethos.

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