NewsUK News

Children who planned Pimlico school protest over flag and hair rules ‘face expulsion’

Pupils who organised a walk-out and protest at a London secondary school in a row over a strict new uniform policy could be expelled, it has been reported.

Hundreds of students staged a sit-in and chanted “we want change” in the grounds of Pimlico Academy in Westminster on March 31 amid claims the policy discriminated against Muslim and black students.

They called on the school, run by Future Academies, to reverse changes to the uniform policy and history curriculum.

Hairstyles that “block the views of others” and colourful hijabs are banned at the secondary school, whose former pupils include Chelsea star Tammy Abraham and Top Boy actor Ashley Walters.

Was your child involved in the protest at Pimlico Academy? Email webnews@mirror.co.uk.

Pupils stage a protest in the grounds of Pimlico Academy
Pupils staged a sit-in and chanted “we want change” in the grounds of Pimlico Academy

Students also claim there was no recognition of Black Lives Matter or Black History Month, and concerns about the placement of the Union Jack flag were repeatedly ignored.

Days after the protest, headteacher Daniel Smith said the Union Jack will not be flown outside the school while it undertakes a review into the matter.

The head has also agreed to look at updating the PSHE curriculum and he said aspects of the academy’s uniform policy had been revised following concerns.

But children who organised the protest have been told to attend a disciplinary meeting on Monday, the first day of term after the Easter break, the Guardian reported last night.

Pimlico Academy students hold a protest
Students say the new uniform policy discriminates against Muslim and black students

Police officers outside Pimlico Academy School, west London, where students staged a walk-out
Police officers stand outside Pimlico Academy after pupils staged a walk-out

Mr Smith sent an email to some parents telling them they would need to attend a disciplinary meeting with their child, warning that pupils could be expelled, it was reported.

The email stated: “Following [child’s name] disruptive behaviour on the last day of term, she is required to attend a disciplinary meeting.

“The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the nature of [child’s name] disruptive behaviour on the last day of term and to give [child’s name] the opportunity to reflect on their actions.”

Mr Smith wrote that the the school’s leadership would approach the meeting from a “reconciliatory perspective” and was hoping to avoid permanent exclusion.

The Mirror’s newsletter brings you the latest news, exciting showbiz and TV stories, sport updates and essential political information.

The newsletter is emailed out first thing every morning, at 12noon and every evening.

Never miss a moment by signing up to our newsletter here.

In a letter to parents, Future Academies chair Lord Nash warned pupils would face disciplinary action if they staged any further protests.

The school is facing mass staff resignations and a vote of no confidence in Mr Smith due to changes imposed after he took over last summer, the Guardian reported previously.

National Education Union (NEU) members from the school “overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence in the headteacher and to move towards a ballot for industrial action”.

An indicative ballot is scheduled to be held after the Easter break, which could lead to strikes.

Anti-fascism and anti-racism stickers on a sign outside Pimlico Academy
A sign covered in anti-fascism and anti-racism stickers outside Pimlico Academy

Pimlico Academy headteacher Daniel Smith
Daniel Smith, the school’s headteacher, imposed changes after taking over last year

Last September, a Union Jack flag erected outside the school was ripped down and set alight by pupils.

In March, the walls of the academy were vandalised with graffiti, with messages including “ain’t no black in the Union Jack”.

In an earlier statement, Mr Smith 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.

A police officer outside Pimlico Academy School, west London, where students have staged a walk-out
A police officer looks on outside Pimlico Academy as the walk-out was staged last month

“I admire them hugely for this though I regret that it came to this.”

He added: “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.”

A general view of Pimlico Academy
Pupils who organised the protest could be expelled, it is reported

On the school uniform, he added: “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.”

The redrafted uniform policy says hair must be maintained “in a conventional style”, but there is no mention of styles that “block the view of others”.

It adds that headscarves and turbans must be black or navy blue, but there is no mention of “colourful”.

In the statement following the protests, Mr Smith added: “Students were vocal in their concerns about how they felt the PSHE curriculum was delivered.

A sign covered in anti-fascism and anti-racism stickers outside Pimlico Academy
Anti-fascism and anti-racism stickers on a sign at Pimlico Academy last month

“I, too, having reviewed the contents of that curriculum carefully, feel that now is the moment to begin long-overdue discussions that will lead to a significant updating of that programme.

“I look forward to working with students and external agencies to map out a new programme, one that will address contemporary issues and will ensure that students are better able to navigate the world safely and healthily.”

Martin Donohue, the NEU’s London regional officer, who is dealing with the dispute, said: “Pimlico Academy NEU members expressed solidarity with students’ concerns that gave rise to the demonstration and are proud of the mature and responsible way in which they handled themselves.

“We would welcome their concerns being genuinely addressed. However members’ concerns have not been resolved and remain, including unacceptable management style, serious failures of management and failure to provide a safe working environment.

“Members will be holding an indicative ballot after Easter to try and resolve these continuing serious concerns.”

Mirror Online has contacted Future Academies for comment.



All Credit

Related Articles

Back to top button