Thanks to the anti-racism work of one of its young students, Repton Prep, a prestigious day and boarding school for children aged 3 to 13 in Derbyshire, has recently become a Stephen Lawrence Ambassador School.
Barney, a Year 8 pupil, led a special assembly on Stephen Lawrence, the Black British teen who died in a racially motivated attack in 1993. Barney’s write-up of the assembly and the School’s other efforts won Barney first place in a “Say No To Racism” competition that The Week Junior magazine held this year. Repton Prep, the junior school of public school, Repton, has called its pupil’s important contribution “outstanding.”
The Murder of Stephen Lawrence
Late in the evening of April 22, 1993, Stephen Lawrence, a Black British 18-year-old from southeast London, was waiting for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks. Brooks watched as six white youths crossed the street and rushed Lawrence, forcing him to the ground and stabbing him multiple times. After trying to run away, Lawrence collapsed and soon bled to death as a result of his wounds.
Though the police arrested six suspects, at first there were no charges. After many years of further reviews, new evidence saw two of the original suspects, now adults, stand trial. In 2012, the court found them guilty of Lawrence’s murder and handed each a life sentence.
The murder of Stephen Lawrence had an enormous impact on attitudes around racism and policing in Britain. A 1998 public enquiry of the Metropolitan Police Service’s initial investigation found evidence of incompetence and institutional racism and further independent enquiries followed.
In 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Stephen Lawrence Day would take place annually on 22 April as a commemoration of his death. Today, Stephen Lawrence Day is an opportunity for young people to speak up about subjects relating to race, have their voices heard, and take steps towards a fairer, more inclusive society.
Raising Awareness About Racism
Ahead of Stephen Lawrence Day this year, Repton Prep pupil Barney approached the deputy head, Mrs Krabacevic, to discuss how they could “raise awareness and create a fairer society in school and beyond.” The first step was a special assembly about the teen’s untimely death, for which Krabacevic suggested Barney take the lead.
Barney has described his nerves ahead of giving the assembly, but, with the support of a classmate, Henry, he went onstage in front of the 300 pupils of Upper Prep. Together, the boys presented the assembly they had written with help from resources they found on the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation website.
Barney and Henry explained how the attackers singled Lawrence out and killed him because of the colour of his skin. Barney has shared how, on hearing this, the young audience was “shocked.”
They also spoke on the lack of justice Lawrence and his family received for decades afterwards and told students how the teen’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, had launched a foundation in her son’s name to help young people better access education and training.
For Stephen Lawrence Day, Barney challenged pupils in Years 5 to 8 to write a poem taking inspiration from the teen’s tragic story. For the rest of the week, each form ran a range of different activities that revolved around inclusivity and championing the anti-racism movement.
Say No to Racism Winner
Barney submitted his story to The Week Junior, an award-winning children’s magazine that was running a “Say No to Racism” competition in collaboration with Stephen Lawrence Day, and won. His prize included an annual subscription to the magazine, which Barney donated to the School, and a virtual thank you from Baroness Lawrence over Zoom.
The Week Junior put Barney on the magazine cover and featured his story in a piece entitled “Talking about racism in my school.”
A Legacy of Change
The Repton pupil’s anti-racism work did not stop there. Barney and Henry then decided that they wanted to leave their own Stephen Lawrence legacy at the School and raised money to buy a memorial bench. The plaque on the bench reads: “In memory of Stephen Lawrence and a legacy of change. May those who sit here be reminded of the importance of tolerance and equality for all.”
Thanks to Barney’s hard work and thoughtfulness, Repton Prep has become a Stephen Lawrence Day Ambassador School. From now on, the School will run a yearly assembly and activity week to encourage discussion around themes of anti-racism, youth, and justice.
Barney adds: “I was glad I had the courage to speak in assembly and create change.”
About Repton School
Repton School is one of the UK’s leading co-educational, independent boarding and day schools for pupils aged 3 to 18. And Repton Prep, based just three miles away from Repton School, is home to pupils aged 3 to 13. The Prep and Senior School both foster a positive culture of balance, giving each child educational tools and pastoral support so they can develop well-rounded characters. The School also ensures each child receives the inspiration to achieve their best academically, emotionally, and socially.
Established in 1557, Repton offers students a world-class education that combines its deep-rooted sense of heritage and traditional values of ambition and respect with modern facilities, high-quality teaching, and a broad-based curriculum. Repton students have the freedom to explore interests beyond the classroom, with innovative and enriching sport and co-curricular programmes, all underpinned by a strong community spirit.
With scholarships and bursaries in a wide range of subjects available, pupils from all backgrounds may access a Repton education. Repton’s 2020 Independent Schools Inspectorate report found it to be “Excellent” in each of the areas examined.