Skip to content ↓

Samuel Whitbread Academy


This week, 26 of the students who are involved in our Higher Project Qualification group visited Bedfordshire Archives to learn more about the primary sources that are available for them to use in their projects and how to access them. Samuel Whitbread Academy has been chosen by Pearson / Edexcel exam board to run a pilot project offering a GCSE level qualification to our high attaining Year 9 students. The project that the students have to create, research and write up is on the subject Black History. Students can choose their own topic area, and with only some guidance, are asked to independently research and write up their own project within this overall theme. To help them to do this, we have organised trips to Bedfordshire archives and also early next year to the house where our schools’ namesake, Samuel Whitbread I lived. Whitbread and his ancestors were well known and influential in the abolitionist cause to end the slave trade, and eventually the institution of slavery itself. Charles Whitbread has offered to talk with our students about his family history and answer their questions. We are really looking forward to this, and really appreciate this invitation from the Whitbread family.


Our trip to the archives was very informative and the students were shown some of the artefacts that are held at Bedfordshire archives that maybe useful for their project. This includes local history linked to slave owning families, who have records of slaves that they owned in the Caribbean that have been listed on their death as part of their inheritable property. Sadly, this was not unusual at a time when many aspects of finance and industry were based on the institution of slavery in Britain and other European countries. On a more positive note, they also hold an oral history project that was completed in Luton. This includes recordings made with black people from the Windrush generation who have settled, or grown up in Bedfordshire talking about their lived experiences. From their initial reactions on their arrival to their friendships and activities in their spare time. Students are now aware of how to search the archives database, make an appointment and to visit to complete their own research. Our students are researching everything from abolitionism, black footballers, the impact of music of black origin to the impact of individuals like Mary Seacole. We are really looking forward to seeing their journey and final product. I would like to pass on my thanks to the archive employees for such an informative session, but also to the students who attended whose behaviour, interest and engagement were exemplary. Dr Dr J Haynes