Exclusion for hair?

(41 Posts)
salcita1 Tue 04-Dec-12 18:03:18

Hello everyone,

I need some help with an issue regarding my sons hair. He was isolated today and was not permitted to attend any of his lessons. Reason for this was because his hair was too short.

I did not get a letter from the school or a note given to my son. I checked the school's policies and their code of conduct and there is nothing regarding hair, only in regards to uniform and female student's wearing make-up and jewelry.

Can they do this? Legally?

RedHelenB Tue 04-Dec-12 18:11:07

How short - skinhead? Most schools do mention extreme hairstyles in their bumf

jo164 Tue 04-Dec-12 18:17:07

I think his treatment sounds unfair - but certainly not illegal. If there is no policy in place on the hair style pupils may or may not have, then there should have been no grounds to punish him on. What do they intend to do for the next 2/3 weeks until his hair grows?!
If he had work given to him in isolation, then the school were fulfilling their obligation to 'educate' him.
I would have a word with his Head of Year, and explain that you were unaware that his hairstyle was not permitted at school, and ask if you can have a copy of that particular policy as you were unable to locate on their website! Therefore ensuring the same mistake doesn't happen again.
The punishment has already happened, there isn't a lot to be gained from getting too upset about it now.

helpyourself Tue 04-Dec-12 18:19:58

Mmm it depends. How short? If suede like then school have a point.

LynetteScavo Tue 04-Dec-12 18:24:06

I think legally they can put pupils into isolation for any reason (as long as they are still being educated).

How long is this likely to go on for- until his hair is deemed a suitable length?

salcita1 Tue 04-Dec-12 18:24:26

It wasn't skinhead short, although it may seem like that. His hair grows very quickly so opted for him to have a short haircut, less than number 1 on the clippers.

Problem is as well, he had it cut on Sunday, went to school on Monday. Nothing was mentioned to him. He actually told me that teachers complimented on his hair. Then today he gets isolation???

He was in a room unsupervised with older boys. He was bullied previously by older children a couple of years above him last year.

salcita1 Tue 04-Dec-12 18:25:58

Isolation until suitable length, that is what my son tells me. But I never got a letter, phone call, or anything. I called straight after I found out and left a message and nothing. Thanks for the responses everyone.

helpyourself Tue 04-Dec-12 18:29:30

I'd ask for a meeting, be compliant. It doesn't sound as if it was done provocatively- everyone comes out of the hairdressers 'wrong' sometimes and this seems unfair, especially as he's being bullied.

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Tue 04-Dec-12 18:33:16

Ask for clarification. Why was it ok on Monday but not today? If a policy is in place then the rule should be constant. How long is "a reasonable length", that's very subjective.

salcita1 Tue 04-Dec-12 18:37:43

I am not sure what the reasonable length is. I have looked at their policies and there is nothing. My argument is, why was it ok on Monday but not on Tuesday? My DS is mixed race, with a light complexion. School is out in Essex and is a quiet and generally well mannered boy. Also he had his hair that short before.

By no means am I racist or anything. But there are Afro-American children in the school with hair shorter than his. Where is the equality in that?

FellatioBellsOn Tue 04-Dec-12 18:41:38

Hang on, how can anyone have hair shorter than his if it is less than a number 1? confused That is pretty much bald as a coot in my book. Definitely 'skinhead short'.

Kez100 Wed 05-Dec-12 09:59:08

My Mum is a hairdresser and says she used to have a 0.5 grade blade and used to describe it as being equivilent to leaving one days hair growth on the head. Her Grade 1 blade leaves about one weeks hair growth. So, to be honest, less than grade one sounds extreme to me and I can understand why it might, if there is one, breach a school haircut policy.

wheresthegin Wed 05-Dec-12 20:18:01

"It wasn't skinhead short, although it may seem like that. His hair grows very quickly so opted for him to have a short haircut, less than number 1 on the clippers."

What do you describe as skinhead short then?

admission Wed 05-Dec-12 22:32:00

The first thing to say is that if son is in school but in isolation then he has not been excluded. He is in what is commonly called internal exclusion but it is not a formal "legal" exclusion, in those circumstances you would have received a formal letter confirming it and also he would be at home, not at school.
The exclusion regulations say that formal exclusions should not be used for things such as hairstyles only where the behaviour of having extreme hairstyles is persistent and defiant.
You need to find out from the school what are their rules (even if they are not written down - which they should be) and ask about whether all pupils are given internal exclusions for such situations. Could it be that the reasons for the internal isolation are more complicated than just the haircut?

Loshad Wed 05-Dec-12 22:32:41

we would internally exclude for that as well, less than no1 is pretty extreme imo

ohfunnyface Wed 05-Dec-12 22:36:05

Sounds very strange to not have a policy on hair.

Try emailing?

TalkinPeace2 Wed 05-Dec-12 22:41:14

Our school - anything shorter than #2 for boys is a no no.
And the weather is cold - amazed he let you!

Arisbottle Wed 05-Dec-12 23:34:40

Your poor son must be freezing

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Wed 05-Dec-12 23:59:32

My DD's school (also in Essex) has a stated policy of no 'unnatural' hair colours, or internal exclusion, but nothing about LENGTH of hair.

And it seems hit and miss as to whether a child gets put into isolation for unnatural hair colour too. Y7's will definitely get put in iso, Y8 too. Y9 onwards is more subjective, and a dark red or plum is often OK, but a bright pillar box red, or bleached and dyed blue/green/pink will still get put in iso.

DD (Y10) currently has her hair a deep burgundy shade, done at the start of the summer holidays and STILL not faded or grown out much, and nothing has even been mentioned - but that might be because DD lucked into the one form tutor whose hair is a different bright colour each week.

My friend's DD, however, has a really strict form tutor, and was put in iso for two pale pink, washed out streaks in her fringe left over from a weekend dance show...

But for a buzz cut?! Really?!

minesawine Thu 06-Dec-12 16:33:36

My DS1 had a one week break and lunchtime isolation because his hair was deemed to be too short. The school said it was too aggressive looking - He had a number 1 cut all over that was not aggressive. He was able to go to lessons with the other children, but not socialise with them at break times.

I was so angry (and aggressive) as it was me who had decided to cut his hair that length and not him. Also it was that length when he started in September and nobody said anything. It was so unfair.

I spoke to the Head of Year three times in the week to express my 'concern' and threaten to escalate this to the Headteacher, but on the Friday they said it had grown sufficiently for him to be able to have his breaks with his friends from the following Monday. How convenient! It did not look any different or less aggressive.

tiggytape Fri 07-Dec-12 13:22:52

Our school says no shorter than a grade 3, no hair dyes, no shaved patterns etc but it is all written down in the policy documents.
In fairness it does sound like a very extreme hair cut (less than grade 1 is a skin head surely?) so I can see why they aren't happy. Have you asked them to clarify the policy and explain how he will be supervised this week?

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 17:15:53

This makes me absolutely fume.

As soon as I read the OP, I wondered if the child was black/mixed race. I have seen this punishment meted out to many children of these backgrounds and as far as I can see it's institutionalised racism that for some reason is considered to be acceptable and remains unchallenged.

The children likely to get these styles of haircut are disproportionately black/mixed race/working class/male. The style is considered innappropriate partly because it is associated with these groups.

Exactly how is his (practical, sensible) hairstyle affecting his education or that of other pupils?

If it was my child I would absolutely flip my shit if he was excluded for this, school rules or no. This needs to be challenged more often.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 09-Dec-12 17:23:13

is it in the school rules?
it is at our school.
race is not the issue
decorum is
stop conflating issues
number 2 or 3 cut is just fine
number 1 cut is provocative in most situations - ESPECIALLY later workplaces ...

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 17:46:11

Well he's not in a workplace. He's a child, in a school, and entitled to an education.

I'm a teacher. I don't understand all this bullshit about uniform. I think uniforms are a great idea, if they're practical. As it is, I watch children every day operate heavy machinery/cook/draw and write creatively wearing shirts (buttoned up to the top) and ties. Ties ffs! In a workshop!

And then schools just have to go and take it a bit further, often claiming that uniforms help children to prepare for the workplace. Because it's a difficult thing to learn, y'know - wear a tie to work. hmm

What this comes down to, as unfortunately is the case with many English schools today, is marketing. Look how smart our children look! That MUST mean we're doing a good job. Look, OFSTED! They're wearing blazers! God forbid they should get a 'chavvy' haircut like those working class children.

I'm speaking from experience when I say that black/working class children are disproportionately affected by these ridiculous, pointless rules. The 'education' children receive in exclusion is NOT good enough to make up for time they lose in class. I've seen some very vulnerable children punished this way and it makes me very, very angry.

This is what comes of schools that are more interested in outward appearances than they are in children's wellbeing and learning. The best school I ever worked in had a lax uniform code; children came in with their hair dyed every colour under the sun. On one memorable occasion one of my clever, funny, hardworking top set boys came in with neon pink hair. The ethos was inclusive and warm, the discipline was the best I've ever seen and the children were heavily involved in various activities in the local community. The school is in the Good Schools Guide and had fantastic results.

These teachers need to find something more important to occupy their time than writing lists of approved haircuts.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 09-Dec-12 17:53:44

private school parents are able to create connections that state school kids have to find for themselves

sorry, but as an employer and hirer of subcontract firms, piercings, shaving and tattoos all SCREAM intellectual insecurity - and given the choice of 'comfortable' business contacts or 'edgy' ones, edgy lose out every time

skin colour is NOT the issue - my biggest problem is tattoo blue after all.

schools HAVE to make their kids employable - and if you think appearance is not integral to that, you are the problem.

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 19:11:40

Maybe if you, and others like you, are valuing appearance over skills and suitability then you're a much bigger problem that I am.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 09-Dec-12 19:13:28

fair enough, but I am the person doing the hiring. get your pupils used to it.

ohfunnyface Sun 09-Dec-12 19:49:09

It's a reality of life that people are judged for their appearance- I don't think that's going to change, and I don't think I want to fight to change it.

Appearances matter- gender, race, sexuality don't.

FreckledLeopard Sun 09-Dec-12 19:56:38

Appearance and conformity - to an extent - are pretty crucial in a lot of professions. I'm a lawyer - we have policies at work about dress code and appearance. Clients expect professional standards and appearance is part of that. Might not be right, but it is the way of the world. Children need to learn that as they get older and apply for jobs (even Saturday jobs), they need to look smart and well-turned out (as well as learn to smile, have good posture, good handshake, eye contact and confidence).

Loshad Sun 09-Dec-12 21:30:53

i struggle to believe you are a teacher free range, if so you do your pupils a huge diservice if you have them think that appearances don't matter, or that many jobs do not have dress codes - even asda have uniforms!

Kez100 Sun 09-Dec-12 22:34:18

There are very few jobs where a smart, clean appearance isn't required. I'm self employed and could turn up in whatever get up I wanted, however the business people who employ me may not be so impressed. New clients are offered a free hour of my time and, in that short time, I have to sell myself. That doesn't mean Burberry and Sorbie haircuts but it does mean smart and well kept.

It's reality.

freerangeeggs Sun 09-Dec-12 23:07:37

First of all, it's not me that makes my school policy. I tell the boys to do up their top buttons, tell the girls to pull their skirts down, etc just as often as I'm required to do. I'm glad I went to university for five years so that I could complete this difficult and important task. So the suggestion that I somehow impart to my pupils the opinion that 'appearances don't matter' (not my opinion that they don't - but yes, it's my opinion that they shouldn't) is frankly stupid and not based on anything I've said in my previous posts.

My suggestion in my previous post was that short hair is associated with certain racial and socio-economic groups and as such any rule against it will disproportionately affect children from those groups.

That's fine. Have a rule, even if it is pointless. But when the result of an infraction is the exclusion from education of a child whom the school is supposed to serve, you've crossed a line. It is no longer in the child's best interests and as such you are doing that child a disservice.

At the very least this is an over-the-top response to a minor infraction. I have seen children swear and shout at teachers, cause fights with other pupils, bully and throw chairs who received lesser punishments than this child has received for letting his mum cut his hair short.

And to the poster who said that "gender, race and sexuality don't matter" - you must be very naive.

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 10:52:23

Uniform infringements are used subjectively in my experience, so not everyone who breaks the rules gets punished.

My eldest two DS were both very different pupils, one was academic, engaged positively and was a high achiever. His many and varied uniform infringements were never picked up on. The other one was not academic, hated school and did the minimum if that. He was not let off any of the uniform rules and attended many a DT as punishment (which only served to make his dissatisfaction with school greater).

The school always denied the difference, but it was there.

gingeroots Mon 10-Dec-12 11:24:58

schools HAVE to make their kids employable

Many jobs are boring ,mundane .
I have coped with such jobs because my education allowed me to find other ways to nourish my mind and spirit .

I do so hope that this factor is included in the "making kids employable " .

freerangeeggs I wish you'd taught my son .

libelulle Mon 10-Dec-12 11:43:30

freerangeeggs I hope my (currently reception and pre-school aged) kids encounter as many teachers like you as possible in future! I am amazed and horrified at the idea of excluding a child from education for a haircut. And to those saying 'ah but lawyers can't have pink hair' - well I have a sneaking suspicion that the top set, engaged, clever child with pink hair that freerangeeggs mentioned, once they'd got their a-levels and a law degree, would probably work that one out for themselves without too much trouble. Though probably they would have the sense to choose a profession where pink hair is neither here nor there. I know a rather distinguished professor at a top university who has a fine head of purple/pink/green/orange hair, depending on her mood and the seasons, and it doesn't seem to have held her career back.

titchy Mon 10-Dec-12 11:52:45

Whatever posters' feelings about uniform and hair regulations, let's just be absolutely clear - the OP's child is NOT being denied his education. I doubt there is any state school in the land that would EXCLUDE (as opposed to an internal exclusion) any child just for uniform infringements. In addition any child that is excluded, is also provided with an education elsewhere.

So let's not believe that this child, or any other, is being denied an education because their hair or skirt is too short.

gingeroots Mon 10-Dec-12 11:57:19

So what are the school doing to him titchy ?

creamteas Mon 10-Dec-12 12:31:09

Titchy Technically if the child is in school they are receiving an education.

But in my experience the education provided in internal exclusion areas is not comparable to what they would be doing in the classroom. He will not necessarily be following the usual scheme of work, or have access to specialist areas (such as science labs). So whilst they are still being educated, they are denied the education they should have received

titchy Mon 10-Dec-12 15:42:55

Well according to the op he was in isolation, which means he was given work but isolated from his peers. He wasn't being denied an education.

Creamteas - that was exactly the point I was making!

freerangeeggs Mon 10-Dec-12 19:14:21

I monitored internal exclusion last period today. The pupils in there had half-heatedly completed a couple of worksheets and effectively learned nothing all day.

ContinentalKat Mon 10-Dec-12 19:29:45

thanks for your earlier comments, free range.
I wish more people in education shared your point of view.

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