MPs write to Pimlico Academy over threat of permanent exclusion for students over protests

Leah Sinclair
·3-min read
The union flag, seen flying at the school, has been removed pending a review (PA)
The union flag, seen flying at the school, has been removed pending a review (PA)

MPs have expressed concern after organisers of a student protest against alleged racial discrimination at Pimlico Academy were told they could be permanently excluded.

Scores of pupils at the academy took part in a demonstration outside the secondary school last month over uniform rules which they said discriminate against black and Muslim pupils.

The students’ demands also included the removal of the Union Jack flag from being flown outside the school, which has since been removed.

According to the Guardian, the students who organised the protest were told last week that they could face permanent exclusion and were asked to attend a disciplinary meeting on the first day of term.

The newspaper reports that some of the disciplinary meetings have since been rescheduled and the school has emphasised that they would be approached from a “reconciliatory perspective” and that no current exclusions have resulted from the protests.

In the letter to headteacher Daniel Smith, a number of MPs including Diane Abbott, Jeremy Corbyn and Dawn Butler shared concerns over potential disciplinary action against the students who organised the protests.

Their letter asked the school to review its position on disciplinary action, and said the pupils decided to exercise their rights to protest within a “long and proud tradition”.

“In doing so, students and young people should be treated with respect, not reproach. As members of parliament, it would concern us deeply if their faith in democratic principles were shaken by incidents like these, rather than nurtured,” it added.

Ms Abbott said: “A number of us were really shocked by the letter where children were potentially being threatened with permanent expulsion, but these children have a right to express their views … It is very wrong to threaten children in this way who are standing up for something that they believe to be an injustice.”

The row began after a new uniform policy was ushered in by Mr Smith which banned hairstyles that “block the view of others”, such as afros, and hijabs that were “too colourful”.

The head has since said that aspects of the academy’s uniform policy had been revised following concerns.

It comes after Tory MPs called for pupils to be taught a history lesson after they successfully campaigned to have the Union Jack removed from the school’s grounds.

Tom Randall, the MP for Gedling, told The Times that Pimlico pupils should go "back to the classroom".

“The flag is a symbol of our national identity, it represents all people regardless of their background", he said.

“It should be a uniting symbol and in that sense those in the school who are calling for it to be hauled down have completely misunderstood what it should stand for and perhaps should be back in the classroom to learn something.

“It is currently, in some parts of the world, like Hong Kong, being used as a symbol of protest by democracy protesters who do not have a voice.”

Pimlico Academy has been approached for comment.

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