Following protests and the threat of strike action, Pimlico Academy’s out of touch headteacher has announced his resignation, reports Jamal Elaheebocus
In a massive victory for students and staff at Pimlico Academy, the headteacher Daniel Smith has announced to staff that he will be resigning.
This follows hundreds of students staging a sit-in protest at the end of last term, opposing changes to the curriculum and changes to hair and uniform policies, which would discriminate against black and Muslim students.
The protest had the support of many teachers, who passed a vote of no-confidence in the headteacher, Daniel Smith.
Following the protest, NEU members at the school overwhelmingly voted to take strike action over the poor management of the school, which included failing to provide a safe working environment and making unreasonable demands on staff.
Furthermore, 30 members of staff were planning to leave the school at the end of the year.
In the weeks after the protest, Smith had threatened to expel the students who helped organise it, leading to a major backlash from parents, teachers and the students themselves.
Smith then brought in Sir Michael Wilshaw, the controversial former chief of Ofsted, to provide him with advice. This was widely criticised by staff, who pointed out Wilshaw’s record of supporting a ban on full-face veils and calling for parents to be fined for not turning up to parents’ evening.
The move showed how dramatically out-of-touch Smith has been throughout the protests and the weeks following. Instead of listening to the grievances of students and staff and working with them, it seems Smith decided to double-down on his disastrous approach of extreme discipline and racist school rules.
The situation at Pimlico Academy represents what is wrong with the profit-driven academy school system.
The founders of Future Academies, the academy trust which runs Pimlico Academy, are John and Caroline Nash: John Nash was a Tory donor before becoming an education minister and setting up the academy chain; Caroline Nash oversaw the changes in the school curriculum which led to the protests, despite having no teaching qualifications.
It was this top-down approach, which ignored teachers and students, that was responsible for the changes in school rules and curriculums which led to the protests.
However, the resignation is a reminder of the power of protest and collective organising. It also shows the importance of student-staff solidarity when challenging the bad management of schools and when fighting against racism both in the curriculum and within school rules.
The movement needs to use this victory as a springboard to demand radical changes, from abolishing discriminatory hair and uniform rules to decolonising and diversifying the curriculum.
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