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Lottery money used to restore ‘offensive mural’

Restored mural of Alice in Wonderland at Wardie Primary School, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Restored mural of Alice in Wonderland at Wardie Primary School, Edinburgh. Picture: Ian Rutherford

  • by RORY REYNOLDS
 

COUNCIL chiefs have been criticised for spending £17,600 of Heritage Lottery funding to restore a school hall mural depicting a golliwog.

Wardie Primary in Edinburgh has featured the paintings by RH Westwater since the 1930s but is thought not to have received complaints until a teacher showed prospective parents around this week.

The mural depicts a scene from Alice in Wonderland with the figure, associated with negative stereotypes of black people, visible at the centre.

Margaret Rocha, a parent considering sending her boy to the school, told The Scotsman she found the image “deeply offensive” and struggled to believe the recent restoration had been be allowed.

She said: “I raised it with the headteacher and she shrugged her shoulders and didn’t seem to think it was an issue.”

Local councillor Allan Jackson said: “I have seen this mural before and appreciate this is an awkward one. I can understand people being offended given the subject matter. However, it’s complicated by the fact it’s a part of the history of the school.

“I will raise this with parents. There is an argument for using it to educate pupils as to views of the past. Then again, at primary age this might not be the most appropriate time.”

Alan McKenzie, from the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association, added: “If a parent has expressed genuine concern over such an image then clearly this needs to be reviewed.”

A council spokeswoman said: “While we understand the offensiveness of the image, it is in no way indicative of the attitudes of the school or the council. Our equalities policies and approaches are robustly multi-cultural and anti-racist, promoting diversity and good relationships among pupils.”

 

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