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White teachers like me should not be policing black pupils’ hair

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Last year, a 12-year-old student was forced to take legal action after he was threatened with suspension by his London school for wearing his hair in dreadlocks. More recently, a six-year-old was sent home from school for having a “skin fade”, a common black hairstyle, because his primary school claimed it would “detract from learning”. Now, new research released by De Montfort University Leiceister has revealed that one in six children with afro-textured hair in the UK are having a bad experience with school hair policies.

Having recently taught in a school with a large African-Caribbean student population, this research confirms what I witnessed there. I saw boys with cornrows and afros being told by senior school leaders that they won’t be taken seriously if they didn’t adopt a more “professional” hairstyle. I consoled young black girls placed in internal exclusion rooms for wearing a black protective cloth over their recently styled braids. Black students being sent home for adding blond or red streaks to their hair, while white students who did the same went unreprimanded,........

© The Guardian