Colourful debate on point of body art

Piercings and tattoos may be a personal statement but is it acceptable to reveal them in a classroom?

Debate is raging in the TES staffroom over what forms of body art should be permitted in schools.

A survey shows that teachers are more likely to have a tattoo than sailors or soldiers, so some people are questioning conservative school dress codes.

Simon Gibbons, 36, who teaches a postgraduate teaching course at Bedfordshire university and was previously head of a London secondary's English department has worn an earring since he was 14.

He said: "I've never had to remove it and I employed a teacher with an eyebrow piercing and didn't see it as a problem.

"If you have too much metal hanging on your face you don't look too sensible and if it distracts pupils from learning, something should be done. I wouldn't want a hard and fast rule though."

Dylan Wiliam, the new deputy director of London university's Institute of Education, also has an earring. Not everyone is so confident, though. One TES staffroom user covers her tattoos at school but said: "Just because you have tattoos and piercings doesn't mean you are a degenerate."

A survey of 1,300 adults earlier this year showed that 14 per cent of teachers had a tattoo compared with fewer than 10 per cent of those in the services. But Peter Price, chairman of the National Primary Headteachers'

Association, and head of St Christopher's primary, in Speke, Liverpool, does not think they should be revealed.

"Showing a tattoo or piercing suggests it's OK," he said. "A teacher's job is to be neutral."

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