Pimlico Academy: Head backs down over 'racist' uniform rules and union jack

1 April 2021, 08:25 | Updated: 1 April 2021, 10:56

Scores of students protested at Pimlico Academy
Scores of students protested at Pimlico Academy. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

The headteacher of an academy which saw pupils protests over a "racist" uniform policy and the flying of the union jack has backed down and agreed concessions after a mass walkout.

Pupils at Pimlico Academy in Westminster chanted "we want change" against rules they said discriminated against Muslim and black students and changes to the curriculum.

Head Daniel Smith introduced a new uniform policy last year which said hairstyles should not "block the view of others", for example Afro-style haircuts, and that hijabs "should not be too colourful".

The flying of the union jack at the school also proved controversial with pupils.

The flying of the union jack was an area of contention for pupils
The flying of the union jack was an area of contention for pupils. Picture: PA

In a statement, the head said: "The right to protest is a civil liberty which, in the United Kingdom, we all enjoy, one that was hard fought-for and which not everyone in the world is fortunate to have.

"Our students are bright, courageous, intelligent young people, passionate about the things that matter to them and acutely attuned to injustice. I admire them hugely for this though I regret that it came to this.

"The issue of the flying of the union flag was discussed at length. We acknowledge that this symbol is a powerful one which evokes often intense reactions.

“We have listened to the concerns of students, parents and the wider community about it.

"After Easter, we will conduct a review of this and, as part of that, consult with all the academy's stakeholders to elicit their feedback. In the meantime, and until that review is concluded, the union flag will not be flown at the academy."

Read more: 'Britain not rigged against ethnic minorities': landmark report sparks major backlash

Read more: Protester scales London crane and unfurls Black Lives Matter banner

He added that the uniform policy and parts of the curriculum had been revised.

Police had to attend the school grounds during the protests as social media footage showed students chanting and sitting outdoors as part of the demonstration.

Numerous posts supporting the action were posted on Twitter.

National Education Union members at Pimlico Academy passed a motion of no confidence in Mr Smith on Tuesday night.

A ballot had been scheduled to be held after Easter, which could lead to strikes.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC, a parent of a school pupil, who gave her name as Amber, said: "It's an amazing vibrant school, well it has been, but over the last six months there are lots of things that have made my child especially not very comfortable."

She said she believed that parts of the uniform code were not motivated by race but were clumsy.

"I feel as though I’ve gone to the American 50s sort of school uniforms policy," she added.

"When I challenged it, it took me six emails and four attempts on the telephone to speak to the principal, I did actually get a meeting and talked about it and he sort of said, no we didn’t mean that.

"OK, you don’t mean big hair is not specifically targeted at people of colour but it’s the way you’ve done it - this is 2021 now, listen to your pupils."

She added that opposition to the flag was driven by frustration at the headteacher rather than opposition to the UK.

Ahead of the protests, 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."

Another slogan said: “Pimlico Academy … run by racists … for profit!!!”

Read more: Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report: The key points

A statement from Future Academies - which runs the school - said yesterday, ahead of Mr Smith’s statement: "It is with regret that these matters have come to a head in such a public way.

"We want to take this opportunity to reassure parents that this is an isolated event, and we are working to resolve the issues raised.

“We apologise to all children, families and staff for the disruption today."

The group has denied it does not take race issues seriously.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Grant Shapps told Nick Ferrari there were "no plans" to introduce registration plates for cyclists

'No plans' to introduce registration plates for cyclists, says Grant Shapps

Jack Fenton was killed after being struck by a helicopter's tail rotor

Parents demand answers from Greek authorities after son, 22, killed by helicopter blade

Lady Louise

Lady Louise Windsor working for minimum wage at garden centre before university

Gerard Butler posted this picture of him and his pal Darius on Instagram

Gerard Butler pays tribute to 'dear friend' Darius Danesh and posts moving Instagram photo

A 44-year-old man has been charged with the murder of 87-year-old Thomas O'Halloran

Man charged with murder after Thomas O'Halloran, 87, stabbed to death on mobility scooter in Greenford

iPhones and iPads are among the affected devices

Apple reveals serious security issue with iPhones, iPads and Macs that could give hackers complete control

Another day of travel chaos awaits commuters in and to London

Unions threaten to strike for 'as long as it takes' as millions face more travel chaos in London

The officer has been charged with dangerous driving

Armed officer charged with dangerous driving after he drove unmarked car to Streatham terror attack

Ryan Giggs' raunchy poems to his ex were read out in court

Ryan Giggs' mother sits in court as raunchy 'totem pole' poems he sent to ex are read out

Ms Marin said she is a normal 36-year-old who spends time with her friends

Finnish PM denies drug taking after footage of 36-year-old dancing at 'wild' party emerges

A-Level teens should take on apprenticeships, says Charlie Mullins

A-Level teens should take on apprenticeships, says Charlie Mullins

A new image, on the right, has been released

New image of man released by police after girl, 6, abducted and taken to woodland in Droylsden

Mr Mendy and Mar Matturie deny a string of sex offences

Benjamin Mendy 'told rape victim he had sex with 10,000 women and it was a privilege'

Anger as Southern Water ‘unsure’ how many litres of sewage released at closed beaches

Sewage scandal: pollution plaguing Britain’s beaches and beauty spots as water firms told 'clean up your act'

Rishi said his go-to item with his daughters would be a breakfast wrap, which has been discontinued

Rishi Sunak’s 'go-to' McDonald’s order with his family taken off menu over two years ago

Salman Rushdie suspect had ‘read two pages’ of the Satanic verses, after mother says ‘I’m done with him’.

Salman Rushdie attack suspect reveals he 'only read two pages' of Satanic Verses