Headteacher agrees to take down Union flag after protests

The headmaster of a school embroiled in a series of uniform rules alleged to discriminate against Muslim and black students has agreed to remove the Union flag amid student protests.

Daniel Smith, director of the Pimlico Academy in London, said the flag will not be hoisted outside of school while a review is underway.

The leader also agreed to look into the PSHE curriculum update and said aspects of the Academy’s unified policy had been revised due to concerns.

The move took place after numerous students sang “We want change” early on Wednesday in protest against the school administration and left class.

The members of the school’s National Education Union (NEU) also “mostly put a motion of no confidence in the school principal and voted for industrial action” on Tuesday evening.

A new uniform policy introduced by the boss last year stating that hairstyles that “block the view of others” are not allowed and that hijabs “shouldn’t be too colorful” sparked the protests.

Last September, according to The Guardian, a Union flag erected outside the school was torn down by students and set on fire, while the walls of the academy were also devastated with graffiti over the weekend with the message “There is no black in Union Jack”.

In a statement, Mr Smith said: “The right to protest is a civil liberty we all enjoy in the UK, which has been fought hard for and which not everyone in the world is lucky enough to have.

“Our students are bright, courageous, intelligent young people who are enthusiastic about the things that are important to them and who are acutely attuned to injustice.

“I admire her very much for it, although I regret it came to that.”

He added: “The issue of flying the Union flag has been discussed at length. We acknowledge that this symbol is a powerful symbol that often provokes intense responses.

“We listened to concerns from students, parents and the wider community.

“After Easter, we will review this and, as part of this, consult all of the academy’s stakeholders in order to obtain their feedback.

“In the meantime, and until this review is completed, the Union flag will not be hoisted in the academy.”

Commenting on the school uniform, he added: “The representatives of the sixth grade students expressed concerns about certain aspects of the Academy’s uniform policy.

“I was able to assure the students that their previous statements on these points provided food for thought, which in turn led to a revision of the relevant guidelines.”

The reformulated uniform guideline states that hair must be groomed “in a conventional style”, but it does not mention styles that “block the view of others”.

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

In the statement following the protests, Mr. Smith added: “The students expressed concern about how they felt that the PSHE curriculum was being implemented.

“I, too, after carefully reviewing the contents of this curriculum, believe that the time has come to begin long overdue discussions that will result in a significant update of this program.

“I look forward to working with students and outside agencies to develop a new program that addresses current issues and ensures that students are better able to navigate the world safely and healthily.”

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