Pupils are to dedicate an entire week to celebrating the life and legacy of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence, who has a research centre named in his memory at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
The Winstanley School, in Braunstone Town, Leicestershire, has appointed a committee of 13 and 14-year-old pupils to put together lesson plans promoting Stephen’s story, as they look to mark Stephen Lawrence Day this April 22.
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The pupil's committee with Natasha Boyce (L) and Sherilyn Pereira (R)
The school is one of several in the area working with the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, which was opened at DMU last year by out-going Chancellor and Stephen’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence.
Under the leadership of their teacher Natasha Boyce, the Winstanley pupils are:
- writing a special lesson to be taught throughout the entire school with the theme ‘Live Your Best Life’, while incorporating the school motto to ‘SHINE brighter than you thought you could’
- looking into the meaning of the word discrimination during the school’s REV classes, which teach Reading and Expanding Vocabulary
- organising a school-wide writing competition with the theme 'Live Your Best Life'
- holding a mile walk around the school grounds in Stephen’s memory.
There is a total of 11 pupils sitting on the committee and putting together the plans for April.
Pupil Priv Muteera, who visited the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre when it was officially opened last year, said: “I feel like Stephen’s story should be known, for people to understand it and talk about it.
“We need to stop racism. People need to take notice that it still exists.”
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Baroness Lawrence opens the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre
Reuben Dowthwaite, who also visited the centre last year, said: “There is lots of prejudice that people experience. I want the rest of the school to have a feeling of inclusivity and know that they can live their best life and be inspired by everyone around them.”
Shalom Mizha and Julia Emejuru are working on a lesson plan for all the teachers to run in their classes which tell the story of Stephen Lawrence.
Shalom said: “People should dream dreams and live their best life.”
Be inspired. Come to the next DMU Open Day
Baroness Lawrence urges schoolchildren to 'live their best life'
Stephen Lawrence Research Centre opens at DMU
Julia added: “I want people to believe they can achieve the best they can, because life is too short.”
Iye Kakay added: “It is really sad that Stephen had his life taken away from him in such bad circumstances. I hope that people are more inspired and know they can go after what they want .”
Teacher Natasha Boyce said: “Some students attended the launch of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre last year, while others wanted the opportunity to have a voice.
“We want every student in this school to know how special they are, that they have a great future ahead of them and they should not be scared to dream and have aspirations.”
Dave Bennett, headteacher of Winstanley School, said: “We hope the young people on the committee will get good leadership experience. We want to give as many pupils as possible that type of experience.
“We also want to raise awareness of racism and challenge racism, while making sure we all play a part in developing a more tolerant, more caring and less violent society.”
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Sherilyn Pereira, of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, said: “We see the Centre as being a teaching and learning resource for schools, to add value to the curriculum and shape classroom conversations around race.
"The students on the committee at Winstanley are truly inspirational. It is fantastic that so many pupils are going to learn about Stephen’s life and his mother’s subsequent campaign for justice as a way to bring about change.”
Stephen was just 18 when he was tragically killed in an unprovoked racist knife attack in South East London, on 22 April 1993.
His mother Baroness Lawrence is widely respected for her bravery, courage and unstinting campaigning to ensure she found justice for Stephen after initial police investigations failed to lead to any prosecutions.
The Macpherson Report found that institutional racism in the Metropolitan Police was the reason it failed to solve the case.
In 2018, on the 25th anniversary of Stephen’s death, then Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that a national day of commemoration would take place on 22 April every year.
Baroness Lawrence said at an event at DMU last year to mark the anniversary: “I have not spent my years focusing on all the bad things, I don’t think I could have carried on if I had done that. Instead, I look forward and work to make change - and that’s what I hope the Stephen Lawrence Day will inspire others to do too, especially young people.”
Posted on Wednesday 12th February 2020