Kenton school may appeal High Court ruling over cornrow hairstyle policy

Judge ruled ban resulted in ‘indirect racial discrimination’

A Kenton school is contemplating whether to appeal a High court ruling that its ban on cornrows hairstyle was ‘unlawful’ and resulted in ‘indirect racial discrimination’.

St. Gregory’s Roman Catholic High School, in Donngington Road was taken to court by the family of a former pupil who was turned away at the school gates in 2009 for wearing the popular hairstyle.

The Times exclusively reported on the incident two years ago.

The school operates a rigid policy of banning boys from wearing their hair below the collar but exceptions are made for Rastafarians and Sikh boys.

The family of the pupil, known as G, said the hairstyle was an integral part of his Afro Caribbean heritage and identity and a similar exception should have been made for him.

But, Andrew Prindville, the headteacher had argued that although the cornrow style is not associated with gang culture, permitting it would weaken the school’s opposition to that lifestyle.

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Mr Justice Collins said the school’s ban was not unlawful in itself, but should have taken into account individual pupils’ family traditions.

He said: “This was an error. I’m satisfied that the policy as it appears, without any possibility of exception for such as G, is unlawful.”

In a statement by Mr Prindville and Alloysius Frederick, St Gregory’s chair of governors, said the governing was considering whether to apply to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal against the judge’s ruling.

They added: “St Gregory’s has always striven to ensure that our uniform policy, including that related to hair styles, is fair and equitable to the wide range of cultures which make up our school community and we value the contribution of every child regardless of ethnic or racial background.

“We believe that St Gregory’s is a happy and successful school with highly supportive parents and with a student body fully reflective of the racial diversity of the local community.”