Teachers at Pimlico Academy have voted to strike to express their displeasure with the London school’s management, following accusations of racism tied to the institution’s uniform policy and its decision to fly the Union Jack.

Staff at the London secondary school voted 85% in favour of going on strike to protest against the academy’s leadership and unsafe working environment. The move comes a day after head teacher Daniel Smith announced that he was leaving his post, after some of his policies were deemed discriminatory by pupils. 

The ballot initiative cited the administration’s failure to communicate with staff concerning important issues, and claimed that they had been subjected to “unreasonable demands.”

The strike has been condemned by some. In a commentary published by the Evening Standard, the teachers were chided for “making a bad situation worse.” The opinion piece acknowledged that because most of the school’s students are ethnic minorities, cultural issues are more pertinent, but argued that pupils must not be allowed to “dictate matters about discipline to the school authorities.” 

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In April, hundreds of students participated in a protest against the school’s dress code, which prohibited afros and “colourful” hijabs. The policy, which was implemented in September, was criticized by students as discriminatory. 

Pupils also took offence to curriculum changes and the policy of flying the Union Jack outside the building. 

Smith had consented to a review of the uniform rules, which were later repealed, and also said he would consider the other complaints from pupils. Last month, Smith decided that the flag would no longer be displayed pending a review of the matter. 

However, students were reportedly threatened with punishment for taking part in the demonstration, reportedly angering teachers who believed the grievances were being mishandled by the school administration. 

The protest wasn’t the first act of civil disobedience against the school’s leadership. In September, a group of students reportedly ripped down a Union Jack outside the school and set it on fire. 

The students’ opposition to flying the nation’s flag caused many commentators to lament how national pride and patriotism was being equated with xenophobia and racism. 

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