Pimlico Academy head quits after pupil protest sparked by 'discriminatory' rule changes

18 May 2021, 18:14

Officers went to the school during protests in March
Officers went to the school during protests in March. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The headteacher of Pimlico Academy has stepped down after students protested against a strict uniform policy and the flying of the union jack.

Daniel Smith will leave the school on May 31 after pupils at the Westminster academy were filmed chanting "we want change". The claimed new rules discriminated against Muslim and black students.

Mr Smith introduced a policy last year which said hairstyles should not "block the view of others" – taken by pupils to mean Afro-style haircuts – and that hijabs "should not be too colourful".

Ahead of the protests, which won praise on social media, school walls were daubed with graffiti, which reportedly read "Ain’t no black in the Union Jack …" and "White schools for brown kids are u mad."

In a statement on Tuesday, Pimlico Academy said: "Mr Daniel Smith has informed the Trust of his intention to step down from his position as Principal of Pimlico Academy. Mr Smith will leave this role on the 31st May 2021.

"We thank Mr Smith for his unwavering commitment during this time which has been very difficult due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

Read more: Pimlico Academy parent explains protests over 'racist' school uniform

"We are pleased to announce that following his secondment as Senior Vice Principal, Mr Anthony Oulton will take up the post of Acting Principal from the start of next term.

"Mr Oulton, who is well known to staff and students at the academy, will be working with Mr Smith to ensure a smooth transition in the coming weeks."

Mr Smith backed down after the pupil walkout, and in April he praised the students as "bright, courageous and intelligent", adding that he admired them and regretted the situation had led to protests.

He said the uniform policy and parts of the curriculum had been revised and the union flag would not be flown until a review was completed.

National Education Union members at Pimlico Academy had also passed a motion of no confidence in him.