Students who repeatedly break uniform rules should be punished, say principals after news that St John's College in Hastings is being taken to the High Court by the parents of a 16-year-old boy suspended because his hair was too long.
The state-integrated Catholic boys' school suspended Lucan Battison for being in breach of a bylaw requiring hair to be "off the collar and out of the eyes".
Fellow Hawke's Bay state-integrated school Lindisfarne College ensures that students and parents sign a contract agreeing to the rules and culture of the school when they enrol.
Off the collar and out of the eyes is the hair policy it also uses.
"We have checks and we have consequences if the boys don't have a haircut," rector Ken MacLeod said.
"The issue here, though, isn't about the haircut, it's about the student repeatedly choosing to ignore the rules."
Inspections of the uniform were done regularly and, in the extreme case where a student refused to fix the problem, the school would send him to get a haircut, MacLeod said.
Detention and an hour's run with MacLeod on a Friday afternoon were other ways students were punished if they did not abide by the rules.
"The line St John's is holding is one you would find the vast majority of boys' schools and state-integrated schools would have. You would find the majority of parents at those schools would expect it as well," he said.
Wellington College headmaster Roger Moses said schools had the right to set standards around the uniform, providing it was explained to students.
"In uniformed schools you can be cut and dry about what students wear. Parents sign a contract and, if they don't want to abide by the rules, then there are non-uniform schools out there."
Onslow College, which does not have a uniform, still had standards and expectations, principal Peter Leggat said.
"We expect there to be nothing offensive on clothing and students be appropriately covered. The students show a great deal of social maturity around this."
Every Friday Hastings Boys' High School inspected uniforms as the boys left assembly and, if their hair was getting close to the collar, they were told to get it sorted by Monday, principal Robert Sturch said.
Secondary Schools Principals Association president Tom Parsons said that, in the case of St John's College, it was the parents depriving Battison of an education, not the school.
"There's a lot of free choice for parents. If they choose to enrol their child at a school that has a policy about short hair, they can't decide that it shouldn't apply to them once they've enrolled."
It's Harry styles in hair fashion
Long, scruffy and dishevelled hair is the fashion for young men - and it's all One Direction's fault, according to a Wellington hairdresser.
Several years ago teenagers were bringing in photos of footballers' haircuts they wanted to replicate, but now it was the British and Irish pop band, or male models, Sadal & Co hairdresser Oliver Marchant said.
Top knots were also popular, which would probably push the boundaries at some schools, but Marchant said his job was to make sure the customer left satisfied.
"I have strong views on this issue at high school, and personally think as long as a student's hair is clean and styled well, then it shouldn't be an issue.
"I've had the odd occasion where a boy has come in and got something a bit out there, and a week later he's had to come back in and get it changed.
"On the whole the wild colours and cuts tend to be requested when the start of the school holidays hit, and they'll come back in to get it cleaned up before school heads back."
He said teenage boys were much more savvy these days and increasingly used product and hairdryers to style their hair.
"Looking ahead, fashion will always just be another version of what's already in. While it's a bit dishevelled and unkempt at the moment, it will probably go back to being a bit more of a groomed look."
- The Dominion Post
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