Schoolgirl receives £8,500 discrimination payout over afro hairstyle

11 February 2020, 08:43

Ruby Williams received an £8,500 payout over her hairstyle
Ruby Williams received an £8,500 payout over her hairstyle. Picture: BBC

By Asher McShane

A girl who was repeatedly sent home from school over her afro hair has been awarded a discrimination payout of £8,500.

Ruby Williams, 18, described how The Urswick School, a Church of England secondary school in Hackney, east London, claimed her hair was distracting pupils and blocking their views of the whiteboard.

She received the payout in an out-of-court settlement after her family took legal action against the school.

She had been told that her hair breached the school’s uniform policy, which stated that "afro style hair must be of reasonable size and length".

The policy has now been removed from its website.

Her parents, Kate and Lenny Williams, said that their three-year legal battle, backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, “destroyed” their daughter’s confidence.

Speaking to the BBC, Ruby said teachers even attempted to put bands in her hair, saying: "I ended up getting frustrated because my hair would keep bouncing out of the bun.

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"In the end I just said 'If it's too big can you just please send me home? Because this is not OK'.

"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?"

The settlement offer was made by the London Diocesan Board for Schools directly to Miss Williams’ family, without any admission of liability from the school.

The Urswick School's governing body says the school "recognises and celebrates diversity at every opportunity".

A spokesman said in a statement: “The governing body is hugely distressed if any child or family feels we have discriminated against them. ”We do not accept that the school has discriminated, even unintentionally, against any individual or group."