A PUPIL at a Church of England secondary school has been awarded compensation in an out-of-court settlement after repeatedly being sent home because of her Afro hair.
The pupil, Ruby Williams, was given £8500 in the settlement after her family took legal action against the Urswick School, in Hackney, east London, from where she had been sent home so often she became depressed and anxious.
Throughout her GCSE years, she was told that her hair breached the school’s policy at the time, which said “Afro hair must be of reasonable size and length,” and she was sent home, missing lessons.
Ruby said she was told that her hair was “too big” and that it blocked the view of other pupils.
She told the BBC: “Why should I have to cut or change my hair and people can have their hair all the way down to their hips — as long as they want — but because my hair grows out I need to cut it?”
Her parents said that she had tried different styles to comply with the school’s guidelines, but they took hours each morning and damaged her hair.
The settlement was paid out by the insurers for the London Diocesan Board for Schools, without any admission of liability by the school.
Ruby’s mother, Kate Williams, who is a church leader at Frampton Park Baptist Church, Hackney, said that she had “constantly appealed” to the school’s Christian ethos, but “my pleas fell on deaf ears.”
She was supported by her church, and by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which used its powers under the Equality Act to fund a race discrimination claim against the school on Ruby’s behalf.
The chief executive of the London Diocesan Board for Schools, Inigo Woolf, said that the school has since amended its hairstyles policy to ensure that it complied with the requirements of the EHRC, and it would not comment further.
Ruby is now 18 and is studying for A levels at another school.