The John Baskeyfield VC Primary School has generated recent controversy, following its renaming as Saint Nathaniel’s Academy. Several have shown disapproval of the decision, feeling that the school’s namesake, WWII hero John Baskeyfield, has been disrespected by the school.
Baskeyfield became a hero when he held back a line of German tanks at the Battle of Arheim in 1944, sacrificing his life for the war effort. The school which was named in his honor did so to save face. The school was given academy status, and trustees felt that a name change would help to increase their reputation. Unfortunately according to his niece, Joyce Windsor, they will be saving face at the risk of pushing her uncle out of public memory.
Not only was Baskeyfield, who received a posthumous Victoria Cross for his efforts, forgotten in name, but the school took down the display they had put up in his honor and gave the items within back to his family.
Staff at the school has attempted a defense of their decision to rename, saying that they had been put on special measures recently before being given their new academy status, and feel that to keep their old name would be to juxtapose the legacy of Baskeyfield with their legacy of failure. They have also pointed out that the new name seems more fitting for them as they are a church school, although parents are still unhappy, The Sentinal reports.
Parents have pointed out that while Baskeyfield is a local hero, many are unaware of Saint Nathaniel, even those that read the Bible regularly. They also feel that, even were Saint Nathaniel a more recognizable name to their children, the school’s old name was relatable on a more personal level due to the war hero’s local roots. One grandmother believes strongly that the school would not need to change their name in the first place had they maintained a level of academia that would have prevented them from needing to be put on special measures.
Some historians are also upset by the decision, but the school doesn’t seem as if they will be changing their minds any time soon. John Baskeyfield VC Primary School is officially the Saint Nathaniel’s Academy. While locals could not get them to reverse the decision, this does not necessarily mean that Baskeyfield and his contributions to the war effort will be completely forgotten. Considering how many people have demonstrated criticism of the school for its name change, it seems likely that the name will still find a way to live on in one capacity or another.