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Teachers at a school embroiled in a row over uniform rules which are claimed to discriminate against Muslim and black students have threatened industrial action and “overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence” in its principal.
Scores of pupils at Pimlico Academy in Westminster, central London, chanted “we want change” and walked out of school early on Wednesday in protest against the school hierarchy.
Police officers were seen at the school grounds during the protests.
A new uniform policy ushered in by head teacher, Daniel Smith, last year, which stated that hairstyles that “block the view of others” would not be allowed and hijabs “should not be too colourful” sparked agitation that came to a head on the last day of term.
National Education Union members from Pimlico Academy on Tuesday night “overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence in the head teacher and to move towards a ballot for industrial action”, an NEU spokeswoman said.
An indicative ballot is scheduled to be held after the Easter break, which could potentially lead to strikes.
A statement purportedly on behalf of students railed against “racism, Islamophobia and transphobia” and said pupils were angry at a lack of recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Parents Dee, Sham and Layla, who all have a child in Year 8 and declined to give their surnames, said students’ complaints centred around a “race issue”.
Speaking after pupils had been sent home for the day, Dee said: “The main problem is when the new headteacher came along he changed a lot of the rules, mainly to do with their appearance, so like their hair and their head scarves… as in they shouldn’t have a hairdo that can block the view of others.”
She claimed this was “basically talking about Afro hair”.
The mothers said that pupils who chose to walk out on Wednesday were allegedly told they risked being “excluded”.
According to his Linkedin profile, Mr Smith took over as principal at the school last September.