Brian Lightman: Judgment that undermines a head's authority

A school's decision to ban a pupil who refused to change his cornrow hairstyle was discriminatory and unlawful, the High Court ruled yesterday
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The definition of ethnicity has become so nebulous, it is making it much more difficult for schools to make straightforward decisions about dress code. In this sense it is undermining heads' ability to uphold standards of consistency and behaviour.

The ability to set and maintain an ethos which demands high standards of behaviour is at the heart of every successful school.

It would be disastrous if this judgment opened the door to challenges to the authority of head teachers and teachers at a time when the Government has strongly supported the maintenance of high standards of discipline and schools have been working really hard to achieve that.

Schools should always make sure their uniform policies comply with equality legislation and everybody is mindful of that. But the danger is that if we move to a culture of litigation where we are in front of the courts for making a decision in good faith, then I think that's very worrying.

The author is general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders