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‘Racist, Islamophobic’ school faces outrage after threatening to expel student protesters

Students say the school's new dress policy discriminated against black, Muslim and transgender students.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Pimlico Academy in London, which was the scene of a sit-in protest involving hundreds of students on March 31. Photo: Facebook
Pimlico Academy in London, which was the scene of a sit-in protest involving hundreds of students on March 31. Photo: Facebook

A London secondary school is receiving vocal backlash after reportedly threatening to expel students who protested alleged racism and Islamophobia in the school’s dress code and curriculum.

According to The Mirror, hundreds of students at Pimlico Academy took part in a sit-in on March 31 in response to changes made to the school’s uniform policy, which they say discriminated against black, Muslim and transgender students.

After new leadership took over the school last year, a new uniform policy was imposed. The school banned hairstyles that “block the views of others” and ordered that hijabs “should not be too colourful,” reports The Independent.

The new policy also required senior students to wear “formal business suits” where previously they were allowed to wear chinos and a collared casual shirt.

Many parents complained this placed a financial burden on them while they had been put on pandemic furlough or made redundant.

Students also protested the UK flag flying in front of the school, as well as “racism, Islamophobia and transphobia” and aspects of the curriculum that reportedly ignored the Black Lives Matter movement and Black History Month.

The protests appeared successful as the school agreed to revise the dress code, remove the Union Jack from the front of the school, and revisit the curriculum.

The Westminster-based school said it regretted the way matters “came to a head” publicly.

However, The Guardian reported that parents of some students have since received emails stating that they should accompany their child to disciplinary hearings and any child found to have been disruptive could be expelled.

On Monday, the day of the hearings, the school was daubed with graffiti taking issue with the administration’s handling of the protests.

According to The Independent, the graffiti, which has already been covered up, said, “They want to expel the students for speaking out” and “Expel the racist headteacher”.

News of the school’s attitude is sparking outrage on Twitter.

“Solidarity to the pupils, parents and staff in the face of this unacceptable repression,” wrote opposition MP, Nadia Whittold.

Several MPs signed a joint letter to the school’s headteacher, Daniel Smith, expressing “deep concern at any proposed disciplinary action against students who have chosen to exercise their right to protest.”

The Independent reported up to 30 members of staff are considering leaving the school.

Futures Academies, which runs the school in Pimlico, Westminster, did not comment on the reported mass exodus of staff, but said “the majority of students” were in classrooms studying throughout the protest.