When I started as a pupil at Pimlico Comprehensive in 1976 there used to gangs of skinhead pupils along the concourse. I found them rather intimidating as I shuffled past with my cello over my shoulder. So I think it is a good thing for a school to have a rule about the length of hair.
This is a topical matter in my borough. The West London Free School state that hair must be no shiretr than a number two and no longer than collar length. One mother has complained that the rules fail to take into account the difficulty of keeping afro hair. But there are several other black boys at the school and they have kept within the rules.
The Guardian have run an indignant piece. But the school's founder Toby Young tells them:
"I don't think you can have a different set of rules for black boys than for white boys. My view is that the way to get the best out of every pupil is to hold them to the same high standard. Not to make an exception – regardless of ethnicity and background.
"One of the problems in some state schools is that African-Caribbean boys are held to a lower standard. That's one of the reasons they under-achieve."
"The fact that we've managed to get to half term and the only story to appear in the press about the school is this haircut story is a huge relief. I look forward to the day when the fact that a state school headmaster is enforcing the school rules isn't considered a national news story."
At another excellent school in my borough, Burlington Danes, a mother has complained over the rule that hair must be the same length all over. Her son has a Mohican-style haircut with a tail. She doesn't want to snip off the tail and so has removed him from the school.
The policy on haircuts is a matter for school governing bodies. Parents who feel strongly can place their children at schools which don't place any restrictions. If they send a child to a school which has such a rule then they should accept the rule – especially if they have signed up to a Home School Agreement. If they don't wish their child to follow such a rule they can move the child to another school where they don't apply – that is their choice. But a very foolish choice if they are taking their child away from a school like Burlington Danes or the West London Free School.