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Challenging Hair Discrimination In Schools

We need to have an honest conversation about discrimination in schools.

The devastating case of Child Q has shocked many of us, but it’s sadly not an isolated incident.

I’m reading about the horrific treatment of this Black British schoolgirl, I was reminded of my own experience of an unjustified drug search. I was 13 years old and a shy, nerdy student. I remember being made to remove my blazer, empty all my pockets, shake my shirt down and tip out my pencil case. I later got detention for being late to registration due to the search. And another detention for not having the correct colour pens for my geography class; they’d been tipped out onto the staff room floor.

I felt violated, angry and confused by the search. I’ve always loved learning and school was supposed to be my safe place. I’m sad we’re not as far past this as I’d hoped. I can only imagine what Child Q is feeling. My heart goes out to her and her family.

In this moment of national outrage, I’m pleased to see the buds of change. This morning, the Equality Hub & DFE announced a collaboration on creating much needed guidance for schools to reduce discrimination.

Promoting inclusivity in school hair and uniform policies is a crucial step towards challenging discrimination within schools, workplaces and other institutions and reducing the everyday alienation that many in our community face.

I hope the guidance will be welcomed and followed by headteachers around the country, and lead to long lasting positive change.

Many members of our community have been harmed by uniform policies allowing subtle discrimination against black pupils. It’s encouraging to see new guidance which will significantly impact these children and their families.

This doesn’t address what Child Q faced. This is a step in the right direction, and, I hope, the first of many needed to create a better future.

At Afrocenchix, we’re optimistic about this move. We look forward to a future where we can confidently state that every British children is adequately safeguarded.

We want Black pupils to know their rights are protected, regardless of skin colour, hair texture, socio economic background or any other factor. Together we will get there.

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