Pupils at London school stage protest against ‘racist’ uniform policy

Pupils at a London secondary school have walked out of class in protest at a “racist” uniform policy that bans hairstyles that “block the view of others”.

Videos on social media show scores of pupils from Pimlico Academy in Westminster, in central London, chanting “we want change” after walking out of school early on Wednesday, the last day of term.

A statement purportedly on behalf of students railed against “racism, Islamophobia and transphobia” and said they were angry at a lack of recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The school had recently implemented a new uniform policy which said hairstyles that “block the views of others” would not be allowed and hijabs should not be “too colourful”, according to a Guardian report.

Teachers at the school have threatened industrial action and “overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence” in its principal on Tuesday night, the National Education Union (NEU) said. An indicative ballot is scheduled to be held after the Easter break, which could potentially lead to strikes.

Teachers at the school have threatened industrial action, the National Education Union said

Teachers at the school have threatened industrial action, the National Education Union said

Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

A Union Jack flag erected outside the school was ripped down and set alight by pupils in September, the newspaper reported. The walls of the academy were also vandalised with graffiti over the weekend.

Future Academies, which runs the school, said: “This morning Pimlico Academy saw a protest by some students. The majority of students were in classrooms, studying as usual throughout the protest.

“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.”

Principal Daniel Smith, who took over last year, said the school takes accusations of racism seriously and had decided over the last few days to review the uniform and equipment policy.

“Ours is a racially diverse community and this is one of its strengths; members of the academy’s community feel the consequences of racial inequality profoundly,” he said in a statement on the school’s website.

“I recognise that graffiti sprayed on the walls at the front of the academy buildings, and in the local community, shows the depth of feeling around such matters.”

The new rules state that “hair should be neat and tidy” and “no shorter than Grade 2” but does not specify how tall hair can be. But the policy on hijabs has not changed, and the rules state headscarfs must be black or navy blue.

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