Daily detentions for having a rat's tail

Harley with his rat's tail.

Rats tails, skate shoes and untucked shirts.

Sign of the uniform apocalypse or harmless dress sense?

There are schools that treat uniform codes and dress standards like the defence force. Deviations will not be tolerated. Resistance is futile. And then there are those with a more laissez-faire attitude where departures from what is acceptable are tolerated and, in the more far-out cases, treated as a means of expression for the kids.

But not today. Take the case of Queensland school boy Harley Elvey, eight, who’s facing the imminent chop of his rat’s tail (which he claims has sentimental value) because it doesn’t fit the dress standards of the school. He either loses it, or faces detention every day for keeping it.

The Courier Mail reported:

“Year 3 student Harley Elvey has been asked by Capalaba State School to cut off his shoulder-length plait to comply with a new policy against “extreme” hair styles.

The policy was only recently amended to include a rat’s tail.

Harley’s father, John Elvey, said the hairstyle had sentimental meaning and was an extension of the boy’s personality.

“Harley’s had his rat’s tail ever since he grew hair. It’s got him really upset,” Mr Elvey said.”

But that argument doesn’t fly with the education department which pointed out the rat’s tail was always out of bounds:

“Education Queensland southeast regional director Glen Hoppner said the policy reflected the community’s view, while the school’s uniform policy was signed by parents as part of enrolment procedures.

“A rat’s tail hair cut was always considered inappropriate under the school’s dress code,” Mr Hoppner said.

“To support this, the Capalaba State College P&C did recently pass a motion to specifically identify the rat’s tail hair cut as inappropriate.”

These kinds of stories pop up at a rate of a few a week across the country.

One kid’s hair was too long, another’s ears too pierced, prompting criticism from either side that schools are too prescriptive or that parents too demanding of a system that sees value in uniformity.

So, where do you stand? What school rules did you have growing up, which ones did you break, and if you have kids now, what are their schools like?