Marxists 'exploited' Pimlico Academy's students in the Union Flag and uniform protest

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Marxists 'exploited' Pimlico Academy's students in the Union Flag and uniform protest as dozens of pupil's carried Socialist Workers Party signs and put up group's stickers on school property

Marxist group exploits row over school uniform at London's Pimlico AcademyIn September activist pupils tore down a Union Jack flag and then set it on fire The school rebellion was actively supported by the Socialist Workers Party

By Sam Merriman For The Mail On Sunday

Published: 22:54 BST, 3 April 2021 | Updated: 23:03 BST, 3 April 2021

A Marxist group was last night accused of cynically exploiting the Union Flag and uniform row at a London secondary school.

Pupils from Pimlico Academy stormed out of lessons last week to demonstrate against a ‘racist’ uniform policy, which bans hairstyles that ‘block the view of others’. 

In September they tore down a Union Flag and set it on fire, claiming it was ‘unnecessarily antagonistic’.

Two schoolgirls holding an SWP poster posed for a photograph, later posted on the revolutionary group’s Twitter page

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the school rebellion was actively supported by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), which was involved in the illegal ‘Kill the Bill’ protests in Bristol last month.

Dozens of Pimlico pupils carried SWP placards and the main school sign was plastered with ‘Join the Socialists’ stickers during the protest. 

Two schoolgirls holding an SWP poster posed for a photograph, later posted on the revolutionary group’s Twitter page. 

The following day headteacher Daniel Smith caved in to the protesters, agreeing to remove another Union Flag pending a review. His capitulation was hailed by the Hackney branch of the SWP as: ‘Victory!!!!’

Bob Blackman, Tory MP for Harrow East, yesterday condemned the SWP for ‘exploiting impressionable young people’.

He said: ‘The SWP’s seemingly endless aim is to destroy the British state… It will take any opportunity to exploit demonstrations and stir up trouble.’ 

Dozens of Pimlico pupils carried SWP placards and the main school sign was plastered with ‘Join the Socialists’ stickers during the protest

The Fascist Britain First organisation also tried to use the mutiny to further its own agenda. 

Its leader Paul Golding pulled up outside the school in a van emblazoned with the group’s logo and attempted to interview passers-by. 

Mr Blackman added: ‘That’s one of the serious problems with this, Right-wing nutcases as well as Left-wing nutcases all getting involved in the centre of a school, which should be for learning and developing young people, not a focal point for demonstrations and counter demonstrations. That doesn’t help the young people at all.’

In a letter to parents on July 16 last year, Mr Smith introduced himself and told parents he intended to make changes to ensure the school was ‘characterised by the highest expectations of conduct and achievement for all’.

The following day headteacher Daniel Smith caved in to the protesters, agreeing to remove another Union Flag pending a review. His capitulation was hailed by the Hackney branch of the SWP as: ‘Victory!!!!’

One such change was to the uniform policy. 

The row resulted largely from one sentence: ‘Styles that hide the face or may block the view of others in class are not permitted.’ 

This has now been amended. Mr Smith said there will be a review of the Union Flag after Easter. ‘Until that review is concluded, the Union Flag will not be flown,’ he said.

On the morning of the protest, members of the National Education Union at the school held a vote of no-confidence in Mr Smith. 

Eighty-five members of staff passed a motion of no confidence in the head and are now threatening a strike.

Former head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw said yesterday that Mr Smith was wrong to cave in. 

Sir Michael told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘I support head teachers who enforce and implement a rigorous uniform policy, but you have to apply it in a common sense sort of way.’

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