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Mum says school is ‘culturally biased’ over son’s haircut

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A mum has hit out at a school for being ‘culturally biased’ after her son was banned from the playground at break times for his ‘extreme haircut’.

Josiah Sharpe had the back and sides of his hair shaved in a ‘skin fade style’, which his mother, Danica, says helps hide his traction alopecia and gives him a ‘smart, tidy appearance’ instead of an unruly afro.

However, according to the executive headteacher at Summerhill Primary Academy, Kerry Rochester, the five-year-old’s haircut goes against the school’s hair policy, which states pupils must not have ‘hairstyles that will detract from learning’.

Josiah Sharpe has the back and sides of his hair shaved in a skin fade style, which his mother, Danica, said helps hide his traction alopecia and gives him a smart, tidy appearance (Picture: BPM Media)

Cuts that fall below a ‘grade two’ length are strictly forbidden.

Mum Danica, who works as a hair stylist, has hit out at the harsh treatment her son received, saying she believes the policy is ‘culturally biased’ and that ‘dictating a hair style that’s not suitable’ for her son’s Afro-Carribean locks, an accusation the school denies.

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She told Black Country Live: ‘The hair policy lacks cultural awareness as a grade two haircut is not fair for Josiah’s type of hair and others from different racial backgrounds.

‘When he first started there, I did try a grade two haircut but within three days, it had started to grow out and it looked a total mess.

‘In the Afro-Caribbean community, if a boy’s hair is not long and plaited, or put in dreadlocks, we are expected to cut the hair very short for a smart tidy appearance.

According to Summerhill Primary Academy, Josiah’s haircut is considered ‘extreme’ and goes against
(Picture: BPM Media)

‘It’s not a fashion statement, in our culture hair at a grade two or three is regarded out grown and untidy for a curly/coiled hair type.

‘If your put a Caucasian grade two haircut and an Afro-Caribbean grade two haircut side by side, you will get two very different appearance which will become even more evident as it grows.

‘He’s been having this haircut since he was one. The only time the school had said anything about it previously was when he was in reception and he had a patch on the back of his head.

‘It wasn’t there intentionally, it was because he’d moved while at the barbers.’

She says Josiah is confused about why he’s being singled out.

However Ms Rochester said the uniform and presentation policy was ‘inclusive for all children’ at the school, adding that it ‘neither discriminates against an individual child or racial background’.

She said: ‘The policy states “shaved heads or hairstyles that are deemed by the school to be extreme, are not acceptable” and hair should be “no shorter than number two” length.

‘Unfortunately, Josiah’s hair has been styled in line with what we understand to be the “skin fade” style.

Ms Rochester said the school has taken Mrs Sharpe’s complaint seriously and consulted Afro Caribbean hairdressers in order to reach the decisions made.

‘The family has had, in accordance with the school’s complaints policy, opportunities to state their concerns, both in writing and via a meeting,’ she said.

She added: ‘The school has no record of any medical conditions the child suffers from, on medical forms provided by the parents, however as with other children in our school, when presented with medical information we are more than happy to work with parents to discuss amendments to policy, if this is deemed necessary and appropriate.’



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