Should the school just mind their own business?
When your 11-year old son shows an interest in his appearance you are going to grasp it and run with it aren’t you? After all, most 11-year old boys would forget to put their pants on if you didn’t remind them.
But when a sports loving boy decided to emulate his favourite soccer hero and copy his hairstyle, he never expected this reaction.
11-year old Joe Head attends Pope Paul Catholic Primary School in the UK. He asked his mum to style his hair like Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovich – a piece of hair pulled back in a ponytail.
His mother indulged him, thinking nothing of it, until she received a note from the school’s head teacher Helen Lines saying she did not feel the style was suitable for school, and she was "given to believe [the hairstyle] is associated with drug-taking".
The style – what we would call a “rat’s tail” had offended the delicate sensibilities of the teachers.
Joe’s mother, Mandy told the BBC,
“Joe is 11-years-old and he likes football and rugby. He is a typical sporty lad but he really likes fashion as well and is always changing his hair. He decided last weekend that he wanted to put it in a ponytail and I didn't see a problem with it.”
She says she was shocked at first when the note came home, and after thinking about it for a while was offended.
“When I got the letter I thought it was ludicrous. To link an 11-year-old to drug taking because of his hair is ridiculous.
“I became upset that she could associate drug-taking and my son in the same letter and it became offensive.”
The next day she sent Joe off sans ponytail – but told the BBC she still wants to meet with the school to see what the fuss was all about.
In a statement from the school the head teacher said, “"The school sent a polite request to Joseph's parents regarding his appearance. I'm sorry if this letter has caused any unintended upset and would be happy to discuss it with the parents directly."
“Oh no I just let my 8 year old get a Mohawk and a pattern shaved on the side of his head Will be sure to check his bag for drugs before school this morning,” wrote one on the Today Show’s Facebook page.
Another, “My 14 yr old has been wearing a small pony tail/man bun for over a year now. He is Vice Captain Junior Secondary school, plays soccer, has singing lessons, this is his 3rd year as part of Creative Generation, referrees soccer, representing his school at Futsal today - he doesn't do drugs, is clean, tidy, polite awesome kid. He doesn't bully others but has spent years being bullied by parents and their kids who call him gay and faggot. Focus on teaching this child how to learn and not how to judge!!!!”
But there are some who feel a school has every right to decide how their students display themselves to the community.
“If you go to a private school you are choosing to follow their ethos and rules. The note was OTT but I would guess the school has a strict uniform policy. In the real world after school, we have to follow rules and sometimes adhere to workplace policies with which we don't like or agree. Get used to it.”
And this “Rules is rules and they are there for a reason. You learn from following rules. Parents who oppose this sort of thing are only teaching their children to retaliate and show disrespect. I am sure there are more things to get upset about than this.”
It makes you wonder where the priorities of a school are when there is such an intense focus upon how a pupil looks.
Growing up many of us attended schools which dictated right down to your underwear how a pupil has to present themselves. (Well I did at least - bottle green knickers, no other colour accepted!)
Which is all very well if a family chooses to attend that particular institution. When you make a choice about a school you do so knowing the ethos and rules. But in this case the school as gone too far - to accuse a student - of only 11-years of age - of wearing his hair in a style affiliated with "drug taking" is just too much. Schools need to know their boundaries, and this time this one has over stepped it.
What do you think? Has this school gone one step too far?
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