Hair to stay

Suspension sparks grooming debate

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 09:00 14/06/2014
 Longburn Adventist College students, from left, Rian Shearman, 17 , Wesley McNae, 16, Lucas Ream, 17, and Jackson Strichow,
DAVID UNWIN

SCHOOL TIME TRESSES: Longburn Adventist College students, from left, Rian Shearman, 17 , Wesley McNae, 16, Lucas Ream, 17, and Jackson Strichow, 17, let their hair hang loose. The college has a ‘‘conservative’’ approach to personal grooming and appearance, which means boys have to have their hair off their face at school.

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Manawatu schools have mixed views on how much students can let their hair down.

How secondary school students fashioned their tresses has been up for debate this week after the parents of a 16-year-old Hastings student, who was suspended for wearing his hair too long, took their son's school to the High Court.

Manawatu principals say personal grooming expectations placed on students are no secret, and if people disagreed they should look elsewhere for their schooling.

Longburn Adventist College principal Bruce Sharp said parents and pupils should know a school's rules because they were laid out in prospectuses, enrolment booklets and on schools' websites.

"We take a conservative approach, but we aren't as strict as some of the city's traditional schools," he said.

Students should be well-presented, but there was a certain level of common sense about what cuts and styles were appropriate and how they were to be worn, Sharp said.

Freyberg High School acting principal Craig Steed said students were encouraged to take pride in their appearance, while not overly restricting students' personal style.

However, "extreme" hairstyles were not acceptable, including neon-coloured hair, dreadlocks or mohawks.

"Our school celebrates difference and students having a variety of haircuts and styles fits with that philosophy," he said.

Palmerston North Boys' High School's strict standards had remained since the school's inception, and weren't likely to change, rector David Bovey said.

"The philosophy behind the standards is nothing new - we expect our young men to be tidy and well-presented, as they will be required to be when they leave school and enter the workforce," he said.

"We expect them to show respect to the school uniform and to the traditions and history of the school, and to show some self-respect. Some do not think these [standards] are important, but we do."

All three principals agreed that parents send their children to certain schools because of the standards expected and outlined, yet when students failed to meet them there were instances where families complained.

"We are very clear about what our expectations are," Bovey said.

"Parents and young men know what we are about before they come here. Not everyone will agree, and that's their prerogative - go somewhere else."

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- Manawatu Standard

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