Havering’s secondary academies’ policies on school uniform and personal appearance are virtually identical. It’s as if they collaborate in an institutional Group Think. Their decision-making is embedded in collective unchallenged beliefs. No academy has councillors, parents or teachers as governors. School uniform and personal appearance policies don’t enhance educational achievement. This emphasises that the academies’ approach to micro-managing students is bizarre.
In October 2022 this blog discussed coloured shoelaces,1 which are uniformly banned. Wearing coloured shoelaces can result in students being excluded from lessons. Hairstyle conformity is also an important ‘appearance’ policy.2 Schools seem unaware some ‘extreme’ hairstyles are legal and can’t be banned because of their racial context.
Race-based hair discrimination has been illegal in the UK since the Equalities Act became law in 2010 but the Halo Collective says it is still a really big problem.
A recent survey said 46% of parents say their children’s school uniform policy penalises afro-hair.3
In 2020 a Hackney student took her school to court because of the enforcement of a hairstyle policy. She won her case.
A pupil who was repeatedly sent home from school because of her afro hair wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to any other UK schoolchild.
Ruby Williams received £8,500 in an out-of-court settlement after her family took legal action against The Urswick School in east London .4
Excluding the community alienates the principal stakeholders. It’s difficult to believe legal Afro hairstyles are permitted in Havering’s academies for example.2 Community involvement challenges extremist Group Think policies, which have no educational purpose. Academies are in an intellectual cul de sac in relation to school uniform and appearance codes.
1 Havering’s Academies: School Shoes and Shoe Laces – Politics in Havering
2 This is typical: “It will be for the Headteacher to decide if a hairstyle is “extreme”. It is difficult to definitively set out in advance what will be regarded as an “extreme hairstyle” as styles vary regularly according to fashion. Students are therefore expected to speak to their Head of Year before they alter their hairstyle or dye their hair to obtain confirmation that the proposed new hairstyle will comply with this policy.” Year-7_11_September-2021.pdf (cooperscoborn.org.uk) This can be summarised as, ‘If we don’t like it, you can’t have it.’ Compare Uniform-Expectations-September-2021.pdf (bowerpark.co.uk) And FBA-uniform-policy-June-2020-r-1.pdf (fbaok.co.uk) Frances Bardsley The other 15 Havering academies cluster in the same territory.
3 Halo Code: What is it and how does it protect afro hair? – CBBC Newsround 10th December 2020
4 Ruby Williams: No child with afro hair should suffer like me – BBC News 10th February 2020