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Teaching unions back demands for an end to discrimination against afro hairstyles in schools

Teaching unions have 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 are supporting a campaign to stamp out unfair restrictions over black pupils’ appearances.

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

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

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

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

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 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’.

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

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. 

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

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

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

The teaching unions have agreed to pass on information from World Afro Day to their members.

Michelle Cordington-Rogers, national president of NASUWT, said: ‘No school, college or workplace should impose Eurocentric interpretations of professionalism on my ability based on my hair.

‘And it’s not just us teachers – our children should be judged on their ability, not which direction their hair grows.’

Andreanna Akinyemi, assistant headteacher at Clapton Girls’ Academy in east London, added: ‘Rules that restrict afro hair in schools, or anywhere in society, cannot be justified.’

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