Pimlico Academy teachers walk out over ‘chaotic’ management and ‘safety concerns’ at school

·2-min read
<p>Teachers on strike today</p> (Shelly Asquith)

Teachers on strike today

(Shelly Asquith)

Pimlico Academy teachers went out on strike and demanded an apology from the school which was at the centre of a race row earlier this year.

The National Education Union (NEU) - the largest teachers’ union in the UK - was scathing in its criticism of “chaotic” Future Academies as staff walked out on Tuesday.

Industrial action comes as a result of “unacceptable management, failure to communicate properly with staff including in response to serious incidents and exams and failure to provide a safe working environment for staff”, an NEU spokesperson told the Standard.

But Future Academies insisted that while it was committed to resolving the long-running bitter dispute between management and staff, “85 per cent [of requests] have been agreed”.

Staff on strike (Shelly Asquith)
Staff on strike (Shelly Asquith)

It comes just weeks after the school’s headteacher Daniel Smith resigned after finding himself embroiled in a race row with pupils and parents over “racist uniform policies” which prompted widespread student walk-outs.

Martin Donohue, senior regional officer for NEU London, said: “There was a very well attended and lively picket demonstrating members' depth of feeling and desire for change at Pimlico.

“Parents attended to support teachers in their dispute.

He added: “Pimlico Academy has had a chaotic year with the trust backing the former principal and his decisions throughout.

“While the principal has now resigned after members' no confidence vote, there is much more work to do to rebuild relationships and trust.”

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He said its members want an apology from the trust, as well as an independent inquiry into management style and serious safety and safeguarding concerns.

Meanwhile, Future Academies told the Standard the outstanding “substantive issue” is working hours - something the NEU rejects.

A Pimlico Academy spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that, despite our commitment to ongoing, constructive discussions, the NEU has decided to initiate this course of action.

“Future Academies would like to reiterate our commitment to resolving this matter. Our students have already faced enough disruption to learning this year due to the pandemic.”

Former headteacher Daniel Smith (Paternoster)
Former headteacher Daniel Smith (Paternoster)

They added that following mediation, 85 per cent of the NEU’s requests “have been agreed to in-full or in-part”, while 5 per cent are no longer applicable and 10 per cent cannot be resolved.

Former headteacher Mr Smith was forced to back down over hardline school uniform policies - including banning hairstyles that “block the view of others” - after chaotic student protests in March and allegations of race discrimination.

At the time, unionised staff at the academy also delivered a vote of no confidence in Mr Smith, as scores of pupils walked out of lessons in protest against the school’s leadership.

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