Pimlico Academy head to step down from role after ‘discrimination’ row

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The head of a school embroiled in a row over uniform rules – which it is claimed discriminate against Muslim and black students – is stepping down.

Daniel Smith, principal of Pimlico Academy in London – who agreed to take down the Union flag from outside the school last month amid protests from pupils, has announced that he will resign from May 31.

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

Scores of pupils chanted “we want change” and walked out of class early on March 31 in protest against the school’s leadership.

Last month, Mr Smith said the flag would not be flown outside the school while it undertook a review into the matter and he said aspects of the school’s uniform policy had been revised following concerns.

A statement from Pimlico Academy said: “Mr Daniel Smith has informed the Trust of his intention to step down from his position as Principal of Pimlico Academy.

“Mr Smith will leave this role on the 31st May 2021.

“We thank Mr Smith for his unwavering commitment during this time which has been very difficult due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

“We are pleased to announce that following his secondment as Senior Vice Principal, Mr Anthony Oulton, will take up the post of Acting Principal from the start of next half term.

“Mr Oulton, who is well known to staff and students at the academy, will be working with Mr Smith to ensure a smooth transition in the coming weeks.”

School uniform protest
Pimlico Academy School (Aaron Chown/PA)

A new uniform policy ushered in by Mr Smith last year, which said that hairstyles that “block the view of others” would not be allowed, and hijabs “should not be too colourful”, sparked the recent protests.

The school’s 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”.

Last September, a Union flag erected outside the school was also ripped down and set alight by pupils, according to The Guardian, while the walls of the academy were also vandalised with graffiti over the weekend, with messages including “ain’t no black in the Union Jack”.