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Thomas Knyvett College Fails Black Schoolgirl in Racial Attack

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  • Lewisham MP Janet Daby wrote a letter calling for a government investigation into the beating of a Black schoolgirl at Thomas Knyvett College.
  • Around 30 cross-party MPs have signed the letter to Home Secretary, Suella Braverman.
  • Letter emphasies the need for a thorough investigation into the incident.
  • Also, the letter calls for the immediate evaluation of the school’s response to the attack.

What happened?

On Monday, February 6th, 2023, the headteacher of Thomas Knyvett College, Richard Beeson, failed to safeguard a Black schoolgirl who was subjected to a violent racial attack.

The shocking attack, which was recorded on a mobile phone, took place outside the school at the intersection of Stanwell Road and Salcombe Road on Monday, February 6th. The attack happened between 2 pm and 3 pm, and included both verbal and physical assaults.

The victim was punched, kicked, slapped, and dragged around by her braids repeatedly by a group of white girls and adults, the adults who encouraged the girls to attack the victim.

Despite being present at some point during the attack, the headteacher failed to take appropriate action to protect the schoolgirl, causing further harm and distress.

Injuries sustained by Thomas Knyvett College Student

As a result of the attack, the victim sustained severe injuries, including bruises and cuts on her face, legs, and hands, and lost some of her hair. She is now relying on crutches to move around because of a leg injury for which her leg has been bandaged.

Failure of the school to safeguard the child

Thomas Knyvett College is part of The Howard Partnership Trust and educates students aged 11-16 in Ashford, Surrey, England. The Trust’s website states:

“The Howard Partnership Trust Schools are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people, and we expect all staff and volunteers to share this commitment.”

Yet, Headteacher of Thomas Knyvett College, Richard Beeson, and the school failed in their responsibility to keep safe the student under their care, which is completely unacceptable.

Police investigation and arrests

The police have started an investigation into the recent attack just outside Thomas Knyvett College and have made several arrests. A 39-year-old woman, a 16 year old girl, two girls aged 11 and 10, and a 43 year old man were arrested. The police are also actively seeking to arrest a 15 year old girl in connection with the attack. None of the adults have been made.

Unacceptable inaction by Headteacher

However, it is deeply concerning that the Headteacher, who is entrusted with the care and education of young people, would fail to intervene while a student, the Black girl, was being attacked. This inaction not only further put the child at risk but also sets a harmful precedent for other students. There was no rapid response, as was shown in the viral video.

Adultification and misogynoir of this Black schoolgirl

The long standing issues of adultification and misogynoir in UK schools has serious consequences for the wellbeing and future of Black children, change is needed sooner rather than later.

The notion that Black children are somehow “less innocent” and more “adult-like” compared to their white peers is not only wrong but reinforces harmful stereotypes that paint them as stronger, angry and aggressive. This perception fuels systemic marginalisation and discrimination that Black children experience in schools and beyond.

And when you factor in the added impact of both misogyny and anti-Blackness (misogynoir), the discrimination only intensifies. This incident of a Black school girl not getting the support she needed during an attack is a painful reminder of how much work needs to be done to break this cycle.

The devastating impact on the victim

This kind of trauma as a result of this racial attack may not only leave physical scars but also emotional ones that can have a long-term impact on her well-being. 

The fear of facing another attack can lead to deep psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. These emotions can follow her for years to come and negatively impact her health. It’s important that not only those responsible for the attack are held accountable, but the headteacher and school are made accountable too for their lack of care.

Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe and supportive environment for their students, and failure to do so can have serious consequences. By failing to take appropriate action, the school have contributed to the victim’s trauma and exacerbated the impact of the attack. It is important that schools take their duty of care seriously and do everything in their power to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

Call for Justice and Recommendations

  • Hold Headteacher, Richard Beeson accountable for his failure to intervene and protect the Black schoolgirl who was attacked.

  • Ensure that the school implements policies and practices to prevent future attacks and provides support for students subjected to racial and gender abuse.

  • The school should address the issue of adultification and misogynoir of Black girls and work to create a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

  • The Howard Partnership Trust should investigate the incident and take appropriate action to address discrimination against Black girls in all its schools.

  • Support the victim and her family through this traumatic experience by ensuring they receive the necessary support to heal and recover.

SIGN THE PETITION: Black British Schoolgirl Attacked: Thomas Knyvett College Headteacher’s Failure to Act