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19th May 2021

Head teacher quits over ‘racist’ uniform policy that prompted student protests

Charlie Herbert

The rules said that hijabs should not be “too colourful” and banned hairstyles that “block the view of others”

The headteacher of a school in London that faced protests and walkouts from students over its uniform policy will be leaving at the end of May.

Pimlico Academy faced anger from pupils and their parents earlier this year over the uniform rules, which were accused of being racist as they targeted Muslims and those with afro hairstyles.

The uniform policy said that hijabs should not be “too colourful” and that hairstyles that “block the views of others,” such as afros, are banned.

Headteacher Daniel Smith also attracted criticism for putting a Union Jack up outside the school, which was removed by pupils in September and set alight. He agreed to permanently take down the flag earlier this year, after graffiti saying “Ain’t no black in the Union Jack”, and “White schools for brown kids are u mad” appeared around the school.

The Metro reports that Mr Smith’s tough disciplinary rules and traditional attitudes clashed with both pupils and staff at the school.

One teacher told the publication: “After everything, he still hasn’t apologised or admitted fault. I think we’re all anxious as to who the trust will appoint next.”

The teacher added that the mood at the school had been “celebratory” since the news of Mr Smith’s resignation, and that staff believe he was pushed.

In March, the National Education Union (NEU) members in the school “overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence” in Mr Smith and agreed to move towards a ballot for industrial action.

In protest against the school’s leadership pupils at the academy walked out of lessons in March and chanted “we want change”.

A statement from the Pimlico Academy regarding Mr Smith’s resignation 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.”