Pimlico Academy headteacher backs down in ‘racist’ uniform rules row

The students protested against rules banning hairstyles that obstruct the view of others and hijabs that cannot be too colorful (Photo: LNP / PA / Nick Edwards).

The headmaster of a London school, who saw pupils protesting against his uniform policy, has succumbed to pressure and changed the rules.

Yesterday, Pimlico Academy faced backlash from students and parents for setting rules that banned hairstyles that obstructed the view of others and overly colorful hijabs.

The students also claim that the Black Lives Matter movement or Black History Month have not been recognized, and they have expressed concern about the placement of the Union Flag, which has been repeatedly ignored.

A video posted on social media shows large groups of students sitting in the schoolyard chanting: We want change.

Members of the National Education Union yesterday passed a vote of no confidence in head of school Daniel Smith and a staff strike is underway.

The union says the school’s entire leadership team has quit since Smith took over in September.

Today, he apologized and backtracked on the school board’s controversial rules, which many consider racist and discriminatory.

He said in a statement: The right to protest is a civil liberty we all enjoy in the UK, a liberty we have fought hard for and which, thankfully, not everyone has.

Police officers outside Pimlico Academy in London after a strike (Photo: PA).

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Many students have called the uniform rules racist and discriminatory (Photo: PA).

A video posted on social media shows large groups of students sitting in the schoolyard chanting: We want change (Photo: LNP).

Our students are bright, courageous and intelligent young people, passionate about what is close to their hearts and sensitive to injustice. I admire them, although I regret that it had to come to this.

Then he wrote: The flying of the Union flag was discussed at length. We know that this symbol is powerful and often provokes violent reactions.

We have listened to the concerns of students, parents and the community at large on this issue.

We will be conducting a review after Easter and as part of that review we will be asking for feedback from all academy stakeholders.

In the meantime, and until this review is completed, the Union flag will not fly in the Academy.

Smith added that the topical aspect of the PSHE programme now allows pupils to discuss really relevant topics.

He also said the school would review its procedures to ensure the safety of women and sexual assault.

Pupils also expressed concern about the location of the Union Flag in the school (Photo: PA).

The flag has been removed from outside the school pending the investigation into the case (Photo: Nick Edwards)

Principal Daniel Smith has since apologized, backtracked and rescinded the school board’s controversial policy.

He continued: Representatives of high school students expressed concern about aspects of the Academy’s uniform policy.

I was able to convince the students that their previous views on these issues had been thought-provoking, leading to a revision of the relevant guidelines.

You can download these revised guidelines, which I shared with you this morning, below.

The dispute began after students launched a petition in August 2020 against Mr. B.’s new uniform policy. Smith had submitted when he joined the team last year.

The students accused the school administration of racism, saying the new rule would punish Muslims and people with an afro haircut.

The petition, which has more than 1,200 signatures, states: As students, we have the right to express ourselves as we wish, and we also have the right to have our natural hair small, with more hair, or more facial hair, or no facial hair.

Plus: School

We should be able to wear any color hijab, which is part of many people’s faith.

My parents told the Guardian yesterday: We feel that the school is treating groups of students unfairly.

Schools should protect races, religions and other marginalized groups, not persecute them. We need to see ourselves and our heritage represented in our research.

In addition, a series of graffiti appeared on the walls of the school: No blacks at the Union Jack, and white schools are for brown kids – you’re crazy.

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