Helpline

8th March 1996 at 00:00
Is it reasonable to exclude a girl who has come to school with her hair dyed in purple and green stripes or a boy who has his hair half-way down his back?

If you have a rule on appearance which says that hair should only be a natural colour and not exceeding a certain length, you are well within your rights in excluding them.

If you have no such code, but you believe that their appearance is detrimental to the good image of the school, you still have the right to insist that they change, but perhaps you should give them a warning to return better presented the following day.

If you wish to draw up a code relating to hair style, remember that, if your school is mixed, you need to frame guidance for both sexes in ways which cannot be challenged as discriminatory. It is useful to add that, for obvious reasons, long hair must always be tied back for games and in laboratories and workshops.

The actual length of hair is always a problem, because fashions do change. There have been cases of boys excluded for shaving all their hair off, as well as for growing it inordinately long. It may be better to stick to concepts of tidiness, cleanliness and conventionality, rather than to be too precise about length, and so leave yourself greater scope to deal with whatever challenge to authority the more ingenious may devise.

I have just been appointed to my first headship. Should I become a governor of the school or not?

That is for you to decide, and it is a genuinely free choice, with arguments on both sides.

Those who would advise you not to become a governor believe that the head's role should be that of a chief executive officer, charged with giving professional advice to the governing body and carrying out their policy decisions. They argue that the head should not become involved in making policy decisions because it compromises their position as the impartial servant of the governing body.

On the other side, it is contended that the head is not prevented from acting in a professional manner by joining the governing body. Membership gives the head a seat at the table which cannot be denied. except when items are bring discussed which involve the head personally.

Heads who are governors also feel that, as the teaching staff is represented by its elected representatives, they too should be there as of right. They also point out that there are some key decisions, for example, co-option of governors and votes on grant maintained status, when the decision is taken by ballot, so that the head can cast a vote without openly declaring an opinion.

My own view is that you should become a governor. The majority of heads have done so, believing that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Questions should be sent to Helpline, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax: 0171-782 3200.

e-mail: letters@tes1.demon.co.uk

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