Trend Alert: Pimlico Academy Protest

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest trends that are impacting the daily lives of 16-24s.

Yesterday, hundreds of students at a secondary school in central London protested against changes to their school’s dress code and curriculum that they describe as “discriminatory.” This included rules prohibiting afro hairstyles and colourful hijabs, which blatantly targeted non-white students. The students also objected to the school displaying a Union Jack flag outside the building, which they felt did not reflect the diverse student body, and implied that British students were more welcome than others.

Banding together to protest against rules that infringe the rights and negatively impact the school experience of students from multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds shows that young people believe in a vision of fairness. These students were not simply asking for changes to benefit their own identity group, but to make their school a more inclusive and welcoming place for everyone, which is truly inspiring.

One of the issues raised by students at Pimlico Academy is that they didn’t feel the staff were supportive of the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in summer 2020. A year 12 student told The Guardian that she felt the staff had a responsibility to speak to the students about the issue of racially-motivated violence, as the stories in the media at the time were traumatising for many of them. The slogan “Black Lives Matter” featured on signs at yesterday’s protest, demonstrating how influential the movement had been on the young people taking part.

Videos of the protest went viral on social media and the event was widely reported in the British media. This pressure resulted in the headmaster agreeing to implement the changes requested by the students, after he met with a group of six students to discuss the issues raised, and a union of staff members tabled a vote of no confidence in his leadership. The success of the protest will no doubt encourage the students, and other young people who hear their story, that speaking out against injustice is worthwhile and can have a genuine impact.

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