The headteacher at the centre of a row over his schools discriminatory uniform policies has backed down following chaotic student protests.
Daniel Smith, the principal at Pimlico Academy in Westminster, central London, sent a letter to parents last night promising to revise a ban on hairstyles that block the view of others seen by pupils and parents as an attack on afro styles.
Measures surrounding the wearing of hijabs, including the stipulation that headscarves must completely cover the hair, were also removed from the policy.
It came hours after unionised staff at the academy delivered a vote of no confidence in Mr Smith, as scores of pupils walked out of lessons on Wednesday in protest against the schools leadership.
In his letter, Mr Smith also announced a review over the flying of the Union flag outside the school building, describing it is a symbol that evokes often intense reactions.
Police attended the protest on Wednesday
/ PA
Our students are bright, courageous, intelligent young people, passionate about the things that matter to them and acutely attuned to injustice, he wrote.
I admire them hugely for this though I regret that it came to this.
Police officers were seen at the school grounds during the protests, which led the academy to end the term early for Easter.
The newly amended uniform guidance issued to pupils yesterday, seen by the Standard, still demands that hairstyles are conventional, but no longer includes the word understated and makes no mention of styles that block the view of others.
References to headscarves being conventional and understated in style were also removed although the school reinforced its policy that hijabs must be black or blue, in keeping with the schools colours.
On the Union flag, Mr Smith said: We acknowledge that this symbol is a powerful one which evokes often intense reactions. We have listened to the concerns of students, parents and the wider community about it.
After Easter, we will conduct a review of this and, as part of that, consult with all the academys stakeholders to elicit their feedback. In the meantime, and until that review is concluded, the Union flag will not be flown at the academy.
The union flag, seen flying at the school, has been removed pending a review
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In a letter to parents, he added: The right to protest is a civil liberty which, in the United Kingdom, we all enjoy, one that was hard fought-for and which not everyone in the world is fortunate to have.
Our students are bright, courageous, intelligent young people, passionate about the things that matter to them and acutely attuned to injustice. I admire them hugely for this though I regret that it came to this.
Despite this, National Education Union (NEU) 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.
The NEU said since Mr Smith took over as principal last September, the entire senior leadership team at the school has resigned.
A parent of a year 8 student, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Standard she was pleased Mr Smith has made an apology, of sorts.
She added: He has had ample opportunity to address the issues raised, but hasnt till now. So I cannot help but question whether there is genuine contrition there, especially when one looks deeper into how actually representative of the school community the leadership team is.
Everything recently has been focused on haircuts and uniforms, but as a parent, I feel that the whole ethos of the school is being changed into a stricter, more conservative, less open environment and its not the school that it was before Mr Smith joined.
As dozens of children took part in the protest, one parent, whose child was part of the walkout, told the Standard: Its chaos there.
The school contacted parents on Wednesday morning to say it would remain open despite being aware of the plans for the demonstration.
However, by late morning, parents received another text telling them the academy was closing early for the Easter holiday, with pupils leaving shortly after lunchtime.
Students occupied basketball courts at the school
/ Amir Badrashi Loddo
The protest came after the schools walls were covered in graffiti over the weekend.
Students had raised concerns about changes to the academys history curriculum and a lack of recognition for Black History Month.
In a letter, published online, those behind the protests said: Students were outraged that there was no recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement or Black History Month.
In September, many students expected assemblies and i-space sessions to held in light of the Black Lives Matter movement to show solidarity and support for Black students but were disappointed.
Instead, students were told to form a club to discuss their experiences, rather than uplifting the voices of Black students.
It added: We believe that the curriculum does not currently represent its pupils. We should see ourselves and our backgrounds represented in our studies.
The rewritten, chronological history curriculum means that the focus is on white British kings and queens.
Students shared this flyer ahead of the protest
/ Amir Badrashi Loddo
Future Academies, which runs the school, said it has the highest aspirations for our students and are committed to ensuring that they all grow up to be respectful of others, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age, disability or religious belief, and that each feels respected and safe.
A petition against the uniform changes has over 1,200 signatures.
It said: We as students have the right to express ourselves however we choose, and also have the right to have our natural hair weather [sic] it be big hair small hair or loads of facial hair or no facial hair.
We should be able to wear any coloured Hijabs we want as its part of a lot of peoples religion.
Niyad Farah, whose son attends the school, told the Standard that Pimlico Academy used to be diverse but she feels that everything changed when the new headteacher came in.
She added: Most students in that school have afro hair, so for them to be told not to come to school or get detention or work in isolation is ridiculous.
Its just not including everyone and its not like they are coming in with red or pink hair this is natural hair. It should never be a cause for concern.
Students were sent home for Easter early
/ Amir Badrashi Loddo
Amir Badrashi Loddo, 13, told the Standard that pupils at the school were proud of its diversity until recently.
He said students were told on Tuesday not to take part in the protest, adding: I think that is what gave people the drive to carry on and do it.
The main chant was we want change. I think it is incredible how much people want what is right and just to be part of that is brilliant.
The Standard contacted Pimlico Academy, via phone and email, for comment but did not receive a reply.