Winner highlights London’s lessons for the future from a 2017 tragedy

Winner highlights London’s lessons for the future from a 2017 tragedy

A first-year pupil’s focus on the Grenfell Tower fire took him to victory in the new Lower School History Essay competition.

Sasha Temple impressed History teacher Simon Walker with his rationale for choosing the housing block conflagration as a source that would be useful to historians of the future studying 21st-century London. Entrants not only had to name two such sources, but also to explain what historians would be able to learn from their content or provenance.

Year 7’s Sasha beat off competition both from his peers and from Year 8 to take the prize. His success was announced in assembly by Mr Walker.

“Sasha’s choice of source, and his justification for that choice, were impressive mainly for two reasons. First, it was very specific to London, revealing much about the city rather than just the early 21st century more generally.

“And second, Sasha showed great perceptiveness in considering the provenance of the source – the story that lies behind it, and what we can learn from this. As a Year 7 student, Sasha has not received much, if any, instruction in this skill yet, but nonetheless he was able to think of his source not just as an inanimate object that simply exists, but as something whose existence reveals much about human affairs.”

Mr Walker added that Sasha was therefore able to explore how the tragic events of June 2017 and their aftermath reflect on society and on social attitudes within contemporary London. “For example, Sasha considered how, if we compare the remains of Grenfell Tower to other blocks of flats in the city, we can establish from the absence of safety measures such as sprinklers and fire extinguishers that there is great inequality in today’s London. Alongside this, Sasha highlighted that the cheap material from which the tower was constructed reflects on the lack of concern within the society of London towards the safety, and more generally the wellbeing, of the city’s poorer inhabitants.”

Sasha’s other source was Barnet Amenity Site, the Borough’s recycling and tip facility.

The rules of the new competition specified that submissions had to be typed and handed in to the History department by the first day back after half-term.