The mother of a boy disciplined at a Co Fermanagh grammar school for his choice of haircut, a traditional short, back and sides, has criticised the school’s “1900s style” approach.
Sandra Miskimmin said the punishment given to her son, 14-year-old Henry, by Enniskillen Royal Grammar School was unnecessarily harsh and inappropriate, given her son’s “respectable” haircut.
She said Henry was put in “isolation” by the school for having his hair shaved too short. This meant, Sandra explained, he was excluded from the general life of the school and kept separated from his friends and classmates on both Friday and Monday.
Sandra posted a photograph of her son’s haircut on social media after learning of the school’s response, seeking advice from friends and parents as to whether her son’s hair was “too short”.
She told the News Letter: “It is not an offensive haircut. It is neat and tidy. He was put in what they call ‘isolation’.
“It is very harsh and that is why I am so cross. We had been aware of the rule of isolation beforehand and I had always thought of it as a very harsh punishment for any child to go through.
“I have been overwhelmed by the response people have given to us because of this - number one people are saying that the haircut itself is fine, and number two because of the severity of the punishment.
“What isolation actually means is that the children are taken out of their year group and they - anybody who has had a haircut deemed inappropriate - are sent to a classroom by themselves and they are kept away from their friends and not allowed to participate in the school day.
“It sounds like something in prison. No matter what he did, isolation is not a punishment that should be given out. You are victimising a child here. You have deemed him inappropriate.
“I am a strict parent - he wanted to get his haircut shorter but I wouldn’t let him. He hasn’t had his head completely shaved or anything like that.”
Enniskillen Royal Grammar School principal, Elizabeth Armstrong, responding to those concerns, said: “This is an internal school matter and we are working through that with our pupils and parents.”