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School made pupils pretend to be buyers at slave auction

QUESTIONABLE: Rochester Grammar School

A SECONDARY school in Kent has been criticised for telling pupils to pretend to buy slaves, and work out ‘what sort of slave their business would need’.

Year 8 children at Rochester Grammar School were told to imagine they were buying people at a slave auction, and then were asked to work out how many slaves they would be able to buy with £100, and how many they would need for their ‘business’.

The worksheet said: ‘Consider what sort of slave your business will need. Examine the characteristics of the slaves in source A.

‘Can you find any that you could use? Focus your bids in the first round on those Lots that you really think would be an advantage.

‘Would a combination of different types be more suitable? The key question to ask is, “What can I buy for my £100?”‘

Then, under the section ‘Lots to be sold today’, it included descriptions such as ‘5 Yoruba boys aged between 9 and 11’ and ‘2 Fanti, 1 male, 1 female. 18 years old. Straight from Africa. Very strong and nimble.’

The project caused outrage after a photo of the worksheet was posted on Facebook.

Writing about the post on Facebook, Cheryl Phoenix said: ‘So this is a maths question at a school in the UK. Hmm, I suppose they feel this is appropriate and there should be no offence taken to black students.
‘Maybe we should “JUST GET OVER IT”. It’s a harmless maths question, with no historical or current feeling attached to any parties???’

However, the school has defended the project, after speaking with Metro.co.uk. Their spokesperson said: ‘We categorically condemn slavery and racism of any kind, whether historic or present, and are extremely proud of our multi-cultural school, and the tolerant and inclusive atmosphere that we foster every day to ensure all our students are well-rounded young people.

‘This worksheet is not used in maths but in the wider context of our history curriculum which follows the Historical Association’s recommendations on teaching historical slavery, and is in line with the Department for Education’s history curriculum which says students should be taught about the effects and eventual abolition of the slave trade.

‘This means we absolutely teach students about the horrors of the slave trade, and the worksheet adapts primary sources of the time to illustrate the awful reality of slavery. We also include additional lessons on the horrors of the Middle Passage and life on plantations.’

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