A teenager was taken out of classes and put into isolation after turning up at school with his hair in plaits.
Lealan Hague, 14, was placed in Exmouth Community College’s “reflection room, where students continue lessons alone, after his hairstyle was deemed “extreme”.
The Year 10 pupil, who has his hair longer on top and shaved at the sides, decided to tie his hair up to keep it out of his eyes but was reportedly pulled aside and told it was not regulation within 40 minutes of arriving at school on Monday.
His mother Kirsty Hague said the situation was a “joke” because girls were allowed to wear their hair tied up.
The 36-year-old, who cuts her son’s hair, said it had been in a similar style for the last 12 years.
She added: “It was the same haircut he had the week before, it’s not got any shorter.
‘‘The only difference is that I plaited the top part of his hair so it was out of his face.
“It just looks a lot smarter tied up than it does flopping down in his face.
“He went into school in the morning for only about forty minutes before one of the teachers pulled him aside and told him his haircut was not regulation, even though Lealan noted the length had not changed and he has a similar style all the time.
“They said to him, if you had your hair down it wouldn’t be a problem – so the issue was it’s in plaits”.
It is the second time Lealan, who is capitain of the school’s rugby team, has been isolated for his haircut after his mother’s lockdown buzz cut in March left him in trouble with teachers.
In March, the school called his short trim “very extreme” after Kirsty clippered his hair down.
The head of year at Lealan’s school told the boy that if his hair was down, it would be permitted.
The teenager’s parents say he is a high-performing pupil, with his mother calling him hardworking, and not “at all” a disruptive student.
She said: “He’s top set for everything, so clearly it doesn’t affect his learning. It’s like they all have to be robots there – they all have to be all the same, they can’t have any of their own personality.
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“I can understand if it was bright green or something like that, but he basically just had two French plaits on the top of his head.
“He’s been there since Year 7, he’s not had one single problem. Never had a detention, never been called out of class, always maintains his uniform, always does his homework on time.
“He’s captain of the school rugby team too, he’s never had any issues at all except for the issues he’s had unfairly with his hair.”
The school has now said it wants Lealan to grow out his hair to a grade one and change the style despite never having required this of him before, according to his mother.
Andrew Davis, principal at Exmouth Community College, in Devon, said: “Our uniform rules are very clear and regularly communicated home to parents and carers.
“As is the case with many other schools across the country we expect hair to be conventional, do not allow students to have a haircut below grade one or to have extreme differences in hair length.
“The issue in this case was not about braiding but was about the fact that the braiding ran in a very small strip of hair across the top of their head, combined with a very close haircut of approximately grade zero, across the rest of their head.
“From what I understand the student in question has previously worn his hair longer and so the shorter nature of his hair on the back and side of his head was not so noticeable.
“We believe that the amount of very short hair at approximately grade 0 has also increased significantly from previously when we were trying to accommodate the situation with the hair left long.
“Like most schools, we try to accommodate a range of hairstyles without resorting to any punitive action.
‘‘This is usually through discussions with parents and carers about what would be acceptable to both parties.
“When a student arrives at college with an extreme haircut, they are usually placed in our reflection room to continue with schoolwork until parents and carers are contacted and the issue resolved.
“We regret any disruption to a child’s learning of whatever their ability. However, we have repeatedly made our expectations very clear to all students and their families.
“School rules are also an important part of a child’s education which enable them to understand boundaries and consequences as they prepare to make their way in the world.”
Additional reporting by SWNS