Pimlico Academy faced a huge backlash from students and parents yesterday over rules which state hairstyles that ‘block the views of others’ are banned and hijabs should not be ‘too colourful’.
Pupils also claim there has been no recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement or Black History Month, and they have raised concerns about the placement of the union flag which have been repeatedly ignored.
Videos posted on social media show large groups of pupils sat in the school yard chanting ‘we want change’.
A vote of no confidence in the headteacher, Daniel Smith, was passed yesterday by members of the National Education Union and a staff strike is in the pipeline.
The union says since Mr Smith took over as leader in September, the entire senior leadership team at the school has resigned.
He has now apologised, backtracked and stripped the controversial rules – which many felt were ‘racist’ and ‘discriminatory’ – from school guidance.
He said in a statement: ‘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.’
He then wrote: ‘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.’
Mr Smith added the ‘current affairs’ aspect of the PSHE curriculum will now ensure that students are able to discuss issues which are ‘truly current’.
He also said the school would review safeguarding procedures around women’s safety and sexual assaults.
He went on: ‘Sixth form student representatives raised concerns about certain aspects of the academy’s uniform policy.
I was able to reassure students that their previous representations on these points had been the motivation for reflection which, in turn, resulted in revision to the relevant polices taking place.
‘These redrafted policies are the ones I shared with you this morning and remain available to download below.’
Students accused the school’s management of racism, claiming that the new policy would penalise Muslims and those with afro hairstyles.
The petition, which has over 1,200 signatures, said: ‘We as students have the right to express ourselves however we choose, and also have the right to have our natural hair weather it be big hair small hair or loads of facial hair or no facial hair.
‘We should be able to wear any coloured hijabs we want as its part of a lot of people’s religion.’
A parent told The Guardian yesterday: ‘We believe the school has unfairly targeted groups of students.
‘The school should protect marginalised races, religions and other groups instead of target them. We should see ourselves and our backgrounds represented in our studies’
Amid the row, graffiti has been appeared on the school walls reading: ‘Ain’t no black in the Union Jack,’ and ‘white schools for brown kids are u mad’.
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