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South Hackney school criticised after Black student, 14, told not to attend until he changed his fade haircut

PUBLISHED: 12:26 13 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:54 16 March 2020

Tyrese's fade haircut, which 'contravened' school policy. Picture: Monica Francis

Tyrese's fade haircut, which 'contravened' school policy. Picture: Monica Francis

Archant

A school has been criticised for banning a young Black student from attending over his fade haircut – because its “sharp contrasts” in length breached its “appearance policy”.

Tyrese after having his hair cut. Picture: Monica FrancisTyrese after having his hair cut. Picture: Monica Francis

Monica Francis was disgusted after receiving a stern letter from her son Tyrese’s head of year at Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy saying: “Do not send Tyrese into the academy tomorrow unless their haircut adheres to the academy uniform and appearance policy.”

It went on: “In future you must attend any hair cut appointments with Tyrese to ensure it adheres to the policy. Should Tyrese contravene the policy in relation to haircuts again, there may be further, serious consequences.”

Tyrese, 14, had already spent a day in the behavioural support unit because the school said it was “not appropriate” for him to be in lessons.

A fade is a common hairstyle among Black males, but is deemed to breach the policy, which states students’ hair must be “business-like and smart” and that: “The difference in length between the top, the sides and the back of the hair must not be in sharp contrast.”

Monica, of Gascoyne Road, said teachers should have a better understanding of Afro hair.

Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy's 'uniform and appearance policy'.Mossbourne Victoria Park Academy's 'uniform and appearance policy'.

“I think they need to be more aware of Black boys’ hair,” she told the Gazette. “[When it’s longer] you have to make sure it’s always combed because five minutes later it’s messy again.

“I didn’t want his education to go down the pan so we’ve spent more money and his hair is all shaved off now. We are not rule breakers at all, this is just ridiculous.”

Monica said Tyrese was full of confidence after getting his fade, but now he’s feeling low and has been bullied on the playground.

“He was creaming it and combing it and feeling proud,” she said. ”Now his self-confidence is low. His face was down after he had it cut again and he was bullied because children laughed and said he was in isolation. It’s going to have an impact.”

Mossbourne Victoria Park has not responded to a request for comment.

Tyrese's haircut that 'contravened' school policy. Picture: Monica FrancisTyrese's haircut that 'contravened' school policy. Picture: Monica Francis

Hackney Council last month vowed to make guidance on school hairstyles “more flexible and inclusive”.

Deputy mayor and education chief Cllr Anntoinette Bramble said the new guidance would also help schools have an “understanding of different hair types”.

She said: “I was saddened to hear that Tyrese has gone through this experience.

“In Hackney, we are determined everyone should feel like a valued member of our community – that’s why we are working together to develop a more inclusive approach that schools, parents and students can have confidence in, and helps everyone to celebrate our borough’s incredible diversity.”

Hackney Green Party spokesperson Alastair Binnie-Lubbock called the decision “absolutely ridiculous”. He said: “The fact that these exclusionary attitudes still exist is frankly shocking. It is not for public institutions to police the hair of our young people.”

Emma Dabiri, a teaching fellow at SOAS and author of Don’t Touch My Hair, has launched a petition titled “Protect Afro textured hair! Amend the UK Equality Act to include hair”, which has almost 7,500 signatures.

She spoke out against the policy on Twitter, calling it “draconian”.


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