School becomes UK's first to allow black hairstyles in uniform policy

£17,640-a-year private girls school becomes first in Britain to allow black hairstyles like afros and cornrows as part of new uniform policy

  • Sutton High School in South London will adapt the Halo Code on black hairstyles 
  • It’s been developed by activists to stop black students being punished for hair
  • Teachers will speak to suppliers about hats for pupils who want to push back hair
  • Code ‘champions the right of staff and students to embrace all Afro-hairstyles’

A £17,640-a-year private girls’ school has become Britain’s first to allow black hairstyles such as afros, cornrows and twists as part of its uniform policy.

Sutton High School in South London will adapt the Halo Code which has been developed by activists to stop black students being punished for their hair.

Teachers will also be speaking to suppliers about hats, swimming caps and wider hairbands for pupils who want to push back their hair for science lessons. 

The school wants the code to help black pupils and staff work with natural hair and styles

Sutton High School (file picture) in South London will adapt the Halo Code which has been developed by activists to stop black students being punished for their hair

Teachers at Sutton High School will be speaking to suppliers about hats, swimming caps and wider hairbands for pupils who want to push back their hair for science lessons (file picture)

The school wants the code to help black pupils and staff work with natural hair and styles linked with their ethnic and cultural identities, reported The Times.

The code, which has also been signed by Unilever, requires the school to accept that it ‘champions the right of staff and students to embrace all Afro-hairstyles’.

What is the Halo Code? 

Our school champions the right of staff and students to embrace all Afro-hairstyles. We acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of our Black staff and students’ racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious identities, and requires specific styling for hair health and maintenance.

We welcome Afro-textured hair worn in all styles including, but not limited to, afros, locs, twists, braids, cornrows, fades, hair straightened through the application of heat or chemicals, weaves, wigs, headscarves, and wraps.

At this school, we recognise and celebrate our staff and students’ identities. We are a community built on an ethos of equality and respect where hair texture and style have no bearing on anyone’s ability to succeed.

It adds: ‘We acknowledge that Afro-textured hair is an important part of our Black staff and students’ racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious identities, and requires specific styling for hair health and maintenance.

‘We welcome Afro-textured hair worn in all styles including, but not limited to, afros, locs, twists, braids, cornrows, fades, hair straightened through the application of heat or chemicals, weaves, wigs, headscarves, and wraps.’

Campaigners have warned that schools are unfairly punishing black students for their hairstyles, including braids, amid a growth in strict behaviour and uniform policies.

Headteacher Beth Dawson told the Times that schools must promote racial cohesion and equality, adding: ‘For too long, schools have neglected this duty.’

She continued: ‘Every student should feel that they belong at school and should be able to express their individuality and celebrate their identity.

‘The Halo Code is about not just allowing a range of black hair styles but celebrating black hair openly and publicly.’

It follows a series of incidents at other schools which saw black pupils disciplined or threatened with suspension over their hairstyles.

Earlier this year, Ruby Williams, 18, received an £8,500 out-of-court settlement after her family took legal action against The Urswick School in Hackney, east London. 

Chikayzea Flanders, a 12-year-old pupil at Fulham Boys School in West London was told to cut off his dreadlocks or face suspension in 2017

Earlier this year, Ruby Williams, 18, received an £8,500 out-of-court settlement after her family took legal action against The Urswick School in Hackney, East London

The Halo Code has been made by activists to stop black students being punished for their hair

The teenager was told by the Church of England school that her hair breached policy, which stated that ‘afro style hair must be of reasonable size and length’.

How black and white pupils have been punished for hairstyles

The Charter Academy in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, banned a popular haircut dubbed the ‘meet me at McDonald’s’. 

 

In December 2017, Khai Okojie, 8, was not allowed to ‘represent’ Ellenbrook Community Primary in Salford, Greater Manchester, in a carol concert after he got an ‘extreme’ haircut.

 

In July 2016, Joshua Crossman was put in isolation at Budehaven Community School, in Bute, after his mother shaved his head.

 

In September 2017, Fulham Boys School in London told Chikayzea Flanders to cut his dreadlocks. 

The 12-year-old boy was placed in isolation as his mother vowed to fight the ruling.

 

And in 2013, Billericay School in Essex warned pupils against ‘extreme pompadour haircuts’ inspired by The Only Way is Essex star Joey Essex who sported shaved sides with longer hair slicked back on top.

Ruby, who was 14 at the time, says the school had claimed her hair was distracting to pupils and blocked views of the whiteboard. 

Last year St John’s Senior School in Enfield, North London reversed its decision to ban pupils wearing cornrows following a public outcry.

And Chikayzea Flanders, a 12-year-old pupil at Fulham Boys School, west London, was told to cut off his dreadlocks or face suspension in 2017.

His mother took the school to court, claiming the demand was an attack on her Rastafarian religion.

A year later, the school backed down and admitted indirect discrimination.

In October, teaching unions backed demands for an end to discrimination against afro hairstyles in schools.

The Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers backed a campaign to stamp out unfair restrictions over black pupils’ appearances.

The NASUWT teaching union was also endorsing the World Afro Day call to ‘end afro hair discrimination’, which sees some pupils sanctioned for breaches of uniform rules.

In December 2018, two British academics claimed schools that ban dreadlocks and braiding hairstyles are using slave-era techniques to ‘maintain white supremacy’. 

A research paper claimed that attempts to police black hair have their origins in colonial days when ‘slave masters shaved enslaved people’s hair and jealous white women cut the hair of black enslaved women’.

The paper was written by Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury, presidential fellow in ethnicity and inequalities at Manchester University, and Dr Laura Connolly, lecturer in criminology at Salford University.

It claimed the Chikayzea Flanders case ‘casts light on how schools in England police black hair’ and suggested it ‘is part of a broader racist system that places black bodies under forms of social control in order to maintain white supremacy’.

The academics added that by implying that black hairstyles are ‘undisciplined’, school policies were feeding into a broader narrative that black people themselves lack discipline.

Source: Read Full Article