St Albans school defends decision to isolate student for haircut

Anthony Mousiou was isolated from classmates because of his short haircut

Anthony Mousiou was isolated from classmates because of his short haircut - Credit: photo supplied

A St Albans school has defended its decision to isolate a student after he flouted a rule banning a closely shorn hairstyle often sported by footballers.

But the reaction of Samuel Ryder Academy in Drakes Drive has angered the 12-year-old boy’s father, Evi Mousiou, who said: “It’s not even an extreme haircut. It seems like they are targeting him. He is well dressed, well groomed and a well-behaved lad.”

His son, Anthony, regularly has his hair cut short at the back and sides.

Mr Mousiou was so annoyed that Samuel Ryder had put his son in isolation, he decided to take him out of the academy and tried – unsuccessfully – to switch him to another local school.

However, as there were no alternative places available, Anthony returned to Samuel Ryder following discussions with staff three weeks later.

But when the boy last week faced isolation a second time for his short back and sides, Mr Mousiou was left fuming.

He told the Herts Advertiser: “It’s an English haircut.

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“Some kids’ hair is very messy, and some have long hair but that is OK. My son is well groomed - he feels like he is being picked on.”

However headteacher Matt Gauthier said: “The school has a set of rules, standards and expectations. It is important these rules are consistently applied. This is the first time a parent has responded in this way.”

In common with other local schools, Samuel Ryder’s rules stipulate that haircuts must not be shorter than a grade two.

Mr Gauthier said Anthony was reminded of this at the start of the school year because his hair was a 0.5 grade.

No sanction was imposed on him then, but it was made clear that further breaches could result in internal exclusion – where pupils conduct normal school work away from regular class lessons.

When after half-term Anthony returned with the same 0.5 grade haircut, he was placed in internal exclusion for one day.

But as he was kept out of Samuel Ryder against the school’s wishes for nearly three weeks his absence was unauthorised, and triggered penalty notices.

He later returned to school, but last Tuesday when he arrived with the same short haircut, Mr Mousiou was phoned and reminded of the rules and sanctions.

The annoyed father, who once again withdrew Anthony from school, said: “It’s ridiculous. No-one can believe it. It seems very harsh.”

• The dos and don’ts of school dress:

A perusal of rules set out by schools across St Albans and Harpenden show Samuel Ryder is not alone in striving for uniformity when it comes to jewellery, clothing and hair.

Almost all state that extreme, unusual or exaggerated hairstyles are not allowed, and that the length must be a grade two cut or higher.

Pupils are told that sanctions, including isolation, could result should rules be broken.

Hair extensions are banned, as are stilettos.

Sir John Lawes School in Harpenden warns that neither facial piercings nor nail extensions are allowed.

Furthermore, trousers should fit correctly, not sagging or baggy, “and with no underwear showing”.

Roundwood Park School in Harpenden says that very long hair “can be dangerous when children are working with machinery or Bunsen burners”.

Hair must be “appropriate for a smart office environment”.