Reason must govern style

24th October 2003 at 01:00
Governing bodies have the legal duty to decide whether school uniform should be worn but there is no case law confirming whether a school can legally compel pupils to wear it. A 1953 case, sparked by a girl who was sent home daily from school for wearing trousers, found that:

* school rules must be reasonable;

* courts will always be prepared to test any rule for its reasonableness.

Hair-style rules are reasonable if governing bodies have taken advice from the headteacher, consulted staff and parents, and explained their purpose.

Extreme hair styles could be banned if they conflict with the school image required.

Religious and cultural reasons for appearance must be considered among ethnic-minority pupils. The Equal Opportunities Commission demands schools ensure that neither girls in trousers nor boys with earrings are treated "less favourably".

Government guidance recommends that exclusion is usually inappropriate for breaching school dress rules, unless there is a continual refusal to obey a direction.

Education Act 1996 s 130: Speirs v Warrington Corporation (1954): Sex Discrimination Act 1975; Improving School Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on Exclusions from Schools and PRUs 2003.2000; C v Trafford Borough Council 2000

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