One secondary school was forced to reverse changes to its uniform policy following anger and protests from students who complained about measures to discriminate against ethnic minority students.
Students at Pimlico Academy in Westminster, London held a class boycott on Wednesday over a number of issues with the school administration and expressed frustration with the lack of recognition for Black History Month as well as strict guidelines for student demeanor.
Restrictions included a ban on hairstyles that “can block the view of others” – viewed by students and parents as an attack on Afro hairstyles.
Meanwhile, the rules for wearing hijabs included rules: “When students wear a headscarf, their hair must be completely covered” – with a list of complaints allegedly made by students: “This is harmful and insensitive to girls who are watching have only started wearing the hijab or are struggling with it. It is a personal choice that shouldn't be made by authorities who have not experienced this before. "
However, in an update to the school advisory service, the measures were removed from the dress code, with the changes being accompanied by an apology from headmaster Daniel, who a few hours earlier had received a vote of no confidence from unionized staff.
He added that after speaking with a student body representative, the school would conduct a union flag-wearing review, develop changes to the PSHE provision, and review safeguards related to women's safety and sexual assault.
Last year the students removed and burned a Union Jack that was flown on the school campus while the parents did told The independent one They weren't surprised by recently painted graffiti near the school labeled "White Schools for Brown Kids – Are You Crazy?", "Pimlico Academy … run by racists … for a profit !!!" and "Ain't no black in the Union Jack …".
"Our students are bright, brave, intelligent young people who are passionate about the things that are important to them and who are prepared for injustice," he wrote in a message to parents. "I admire her very much for it, although I regret it came to this."
Mr Smith added: “In closing, I would like to apologize: to students who continue to inspire me on a daily basis and whose voices have not always been heard carefully enough; To my colleagues, the Pimlico Academy staff, who continue to serve the students with such overwhelming commitment through difficult times; to parents and carers who, as we know, always focus on the well-being of their children and; to the wider community with whom we would like to work positively in the future.
“This is a moment for me and the management team to think deeply and plan carefully so that everyone who works and learn here can feel safe in a positive, scientific and respectful environment in the future. "
Despite the concession, a spokesman for the National Education Union (NEU) said the members of the school were moving towards a vote for strike action “because of unacceptable management style, lack of communication with employees, including in response to serious incidents, failure to create a safe work environment for creating the staff to refuse to deal meaningfully with representatives of the NEW, and an unreasonable workload. "
On Tuesday evening, ahead of the student protests, school members passed a motion of censure against Mr Smith, accusing him of discrediting the school.
Pauline Buchanan, Regional Secretary for NEW London, said: “Members did not make this decision lightly. This vote is in response to serious management shortcomings that members believe will discredit the school.
"In addition to the trade dispute of the NEU members over industrial issues, the members have expressly expressed their solidarity with the concerns of the students and their wish for an anti-racist school."
Many students at Pimlico Academy in Westminster in central London sang "We want change" and left school early Wednesday in protest against the school hierarchy.
After the students were sent home for the day, a parent who gave their name as Dee told the PA news agency, "The main problem is that the new headmaster has changed a lot of the rules, mostly related to their looks, like their hair and headscarves … as in, they shouldn't have a hairstyle that can block the view of others. "
She claimed that this was "basically talking about afro hair".
When another parent who identified as Shan spoke of the students, he added, "They tried a lot with the school … but their voices were not heard and that's why it achieved this.
“I think the headmaster just has to get to our level and listen. But he was actually hiding. "
Meanwhile, a staff member speaking outside of school said the enforcement and "rigor" of recent rule changes had made some teachers feel "undermined".
The staff member, who did not give her name, said students found the uniform policy "racially discriminatory" because it "addressed certain groups in the school", such as those who wore "headgear" or those with "Afros".
"Our feeling as staff is that we really support what the children have done," she added.
Future Academies, which runs the school, said in a statement: “This morning some students protested at Pimlico Academy. The majority of the students were in classrooms throughout the protest, studying as usual.
“It is unfortunate that these issues are coming to a head in such a public way. We would like to take this opportunity to reassure parents that this is an isolated incident and we are working to resolve the issues that have been raised.
"We apologize to all children, families and employees for today's disturbance."
Additional reporting by agencies