High school under fire for asking students to list the 'pros' of slavery as homework

Monica Otayza
Nov 05, 2018
11:08 A.M.
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A secondary school in an English town is now facing heavy criticism and backlash for having its students list down the "pros and cons" of slavery as part of their homework. Now, parents have decided to call out the school deeming it "racist, inappropriate, and offensive". 


The piece of homework was given by a history teacher at the Hazeley Academy in the town of Milton Keynes to 11th grade students aged 15 to 16. The piece of homework was derived from the AQA teacher's guide on the topic of "Britain: migration, empires, and people". 


According to Huffington Post UK, the topic required students to tackle why the British Empire chose to pursue the transatlantic slave trade instead of piracy, aiming to show how "plantations" were said to be more income-generating than piracy. As homework, the teacher asked students to list down the "pros" and "cons" to slavery on a table. 

Since this report, numerous news sites have picked up the article and have decided to make it go viral on social media of hopes of trying to point out just how wrong the exercise is. 

A concerned mother stepped up and spoke to HuffPost UK about the disturbing exercise, saying that it was inappropriate. She decided to quickly raise her concern over to the school's headteacher both in e-mail and in person.


While quickly after the incident she got a response from the school apologizing for anyone who was upset about the homework, she clarifies that she is more bothered that the students have yet to be briefed or addressed regarding the problematic homework. 

“The response from the school was that they’re sorry, there hadn’t been an intention to offend anybody and the teachers were going to have a conversation with the students in class about why the wording was incorrect and why it needed to be addressed.”


When they had their parent-teacher evening last Month, it turns out that the history teacher was not informed that they had to explain the homework, and instead turned over the mom's concern to the head of the department. 


“I don’t feel that, individually, any of those teachers meant to cause offence. But I also think that, as a majority white staff, they do not consider history from any other perspective. To me, if they re-educate the children appropriately then I don’t have an issue with the fact that there was a mistake made. The fact that the mistake has not been rectified is an issue to me. This is an ongoing problem that I have with this school.”

In the end, Hazeley Academy headteacher and principal Tony Nelson released a statement to the publication, saying that the school was in no way trying to encourage, celebrate, or praise slavery. To fix the issue, they amended the homework accordingly. 

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