Struggling School Drops Its Military Hero’s Name To ‘Shake Off’ Legacy

Baskeyfield's Monument in Stoke-On-Trent. Photograph courtesy of Steve Birks.
Baskeyfield’s Monument in Stoke-On-Trent. Photograph courtesy of Steve Birks.

A struggling school in Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, has changed its name after its continued demise has led to its branding as a ‘special measures’ school. John Baskeyfield VC Primary School was placed on special measures in 2012 and trustees at the school have claimed that they chose the name change because they believed the name was associated with a legacy of failure, despite it being named after John Baskeyfield, a Second World War soldier who was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for his bravery in single-handedly fighting off Nazi tanks after the rest of his regiment had been killed.

Angry parents, historians and relatives of the soldier have hit out at the school, calling it an insult to his memory. His niece, Joyce Windsor, claims “Nobody will remember him, everybody will forget and it will get pushed under the carpet. It’s a shame.” The school has chosen the new name of Saint Nathaniel’s Academy, but distant relative of Baskeyfield, Christine Tisley, has said “Instead of being associated with a VC winner, those children will grow up associated with a saint I have certainly never heard of – and I read the Bible.”

What makes the move all the more significant is that it comes in the 70th year of the D-Day Landings, an event that should be taught and celebrated to the children, not ignored and wiped off the face of the school itself. Executive Principal Chris Brislen said “To continue with the John Baskeyfield name would have continued with that legacy of failure. To have that legacy of failure associated with a local Victoria Cross winner wasn’t particularly good for him either.”