Her son goes to school dressed smartly but still breaks the uniform rules. What should a mum do? Do you have any advice to share in this week’s A Problem Shared?
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My eldest started high school a couple of weeks ago and today he’s come back with a letter saying he needs a haircut and new shoes. Apparently boys must not have hair that’s longer than shoulder-length. Girls can though. So surely this is sex discrimination? He ties it back in a ponytail, so there’s no health and safety problem.
Oh and the shoes in question are Doc Martens, practical, polished, black DMs. The uniform handbook states “smart black shoes”.
So what planet are they on?
Our FamilyPoint advice
Hi there, thanks for getting in touch with us here at Familypoint. I can understand your frustration at the situation. Uniform items and shoes in particular can be expensive and it would be inconvenient to have to buy a new pair.
Have you discussed the reason why the school consider these shoes inappropriate? If not this might be a good place to start. Before you do, familiarise yourself with the school uniform policy on what is expected about shoes.
Schools set uniform rules to prevent bullying
Sometimes schools will set rules around uniform to prevent children being discriminated against. This is because some parents may not be able to buy the most up to date brands or styles. It can lead to bullying and the rules tend to be about coats, bags and shoes.
If this course of action still sheds no light on the situation then approach the school with the uniform policy to hand. Ask for a better explanation and if needs be speak to the board of governors about this. Alternatively speak with your PTA representative.
Now on to the issue the teacher or school appears to have with the length of your son’s hair. You are right that this does sound like discrimination if the same policy is not applied to boys and girls equally. The Equality Act 2010 states that it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual based upon gender.
However, the law is complex. There could be an exception for the reason the school continues to abide by this rule for boys alone. Again I would consider talking to the school. Starting with the teacher who wrote the note. If you are unable to get an adequate explanation you may wish to pursue the issue with the headteacher and then the board of governors.
If you fail to get a resolution at this level you have the option to pursue legal advice. You can find further information and advice at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. We hope you get the answers you are looking for and a reasonable resolution on the matter, take care The FamilyPoint Team.
If you would like further information on national or local support services, then you can contact us at FamilyPoint Cymru via phone 0300 222 57 57, text 07860 052 905, or IM/Chat. We are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
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