Stephen Lawrence Remembered
22 April 2021 was Stephen Lawrence Day and, as a School, we wanted to mark this day and ensure that all our pupils were aware of why it is so important that we remember Stephen and what happened to him. Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered in a racist attack in 1993, by a group of youths who did not know him and what followed Stephen’s murder was equally shocking. His family were not shown the respect or care they deserved from the police force. This eventually resulted in a public enquiry, which culminated in The Macpherson Report and its recommendation that British Law be changed and the double jeopardy rule being disbanded. As a result of this and following a previously unsuccessful trial and private prosecution, two men, who were suspects from the start, were eventually convicted, but this was not until 18 years after they murdered Stephen.
As well as paying our respects to Stephen this week we have, through his story, been able to open a discussion with our pupils about mutual respect, racism, the power of seeking justice and the important societal debate and subsequent changes that took place. Stephen Lawrence Day is about the part we all play in creating a society in which we can all flourish.
To mark this day, pupils and staff watched a virtual assembly and then pupils engaged in a Tutor-led discussion. We have also created an art installation of a Blossom Tree, which the whole school has covered in blossoms, each containing a relevant inspirational quote. All pupils and staff added their fingerprint to the blossoms, as a mark of respect and remembrance of Stephen, as well as thinking about the various discussion points we had considered and the respectful community we want everyone to engage with. The blossoms have been gathered together to create a truly remarkable display, which we hope everyone will find inspirational.
Pupils have really embraced this initiative and Tutors have been extremely impressed by the interest and engagement pupils have shown in Stephen’s, and his family’s, story.
Mrs Bond, English Teacher and Year Seven Tutor commented: “My Tutor group were absolutely enthralled by the Stephen Lawrence assembly and it prompted a lot of ‘why’ questions. Hands were going up throughout the video and pupils were wanting to know more about double jeopardy and how the justice system worked at the time, and how it has evolved. Pupils were asking lots of questions about racially motivated attacks and crimes and it was refreshing to see this event through their eyes with a common question of ‘why would you want to hurt someone just because of their skin colour?’”
Stephen’s mother is now Dame Baroness Lawrence and she has campaigned tirelessly for justice for her son since his death. A highly respected woman, Baroness Lawrence says that her only hope is “for an inclusive society and for everyone to live their best life regardless of gender, race, sexuality, religion, disability or background”. She founded the Stephen Lawrence Foundation, which exists to inspire a more equal, inclusive society, and to foster opportunities for marginalised young people in the UK. The first Stephen Lawrence Day happened in 2019 and is now an annual national event; one that it has been a privilege to mark here at RGS Worcester and that has served to remind us that, as a community, the RGS family will never tolerate people being treated as if they are less worthy. Pupils are reminded that we must always show respect for others, strive to be the best version of ourselves, and this includes speaking to a member of staff if they think they have got it wrong, or if they are concerned about how someone else is being treated.
The Stephen Lawrence Foundation exists to inspire a more equal, inclusive society, and to foster opportunities for marginalised young people in the UK.
Find out more about the Foundation here.
Dr Lee Andrew, Assistant Head (Pastoral), Designated Safeguarding Lead