An 11-year-old boy is prepared to take his new secondary school to court, in a battle over his 68.5cm-long (27in) hair.
Alfie Howard-Hughes is due to start at Colchester Royal Grammar School after the summer holidays. He’s never had a haircut in his life, but the school’s policy is that boys’ hair has to be no longer than collar-length. The rules also ban boys from having ponytails, hairbands or fringes over the eyes, or wearing any visible jewellery, but say that girls “may wear discreet earrings and jewellery”.
Alfie told us he thinks the rule is sexist and that “there’d probably be a public outcry” if girls had to cut their hair.
“The school said that long hair is untidy and it would be hard to say how my hair could be worn,” he says. “But they have girls in their sixth form who can have long hair, so why can’t boys?” (Only the sixth form is mixed.)
“We’re quite prepared to take it to court,” says Gary, Alfie’s dad. “The headmaster said he’s sought legal advice and believes the rule to be legal, whereas we disagree.”
Alfie has written to the headmaster, John Russell,
twice, who replied: “The reason for the school having specific standards on dress and personal appearance is to prepare students for a successful educational and personal career.”
“I don’t see how having short hair would affect anything,” says Alfie. “It’s not like having short hair is going to give my brain space to grow! If rules were rules, then women wouldn’t be able to vote and our world would be male-orientated still. We’d still be in an age where men worked and women stayed at home.”