Northern Ireland

Commissioner criticises school on haircut punishment

Koulla Yiasouma Image copyright NICCY
Image caption Koulla Yiasouma said children were being denied their rights

The Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner has said the policy of isolating school pupils is "wrong".

Koulla Yiasouma was commenting on the case of a schoolboy who was punished over a haircut his school said portrayed the wrong image.

Henry Miskimmin was removed from class for two days for getting what his mother called a "short-back-and-sides" haircut of which she approved.

Enniskillen Royal Grammar School said it was an internal school matter.

The commissioner said this was "denying the child his right to education" and called for legislation to outlaw age discrimination.

"They have a right to express themselves," said Ms Yiasouma. "Unfortunately our education does not allow them that right."

Image copyright Sandra Miskimmin
Image caption Henry Miskimmin was put in isolation for two days after getting his hair cut

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show, the commissioner called on parents with concerns over school policies to bring them to her notice.

"What I'm saying is, if this is happening to children please give my office a call and let us test this out formally," she said.

Ms Yiasouma also criticised the Department of Education for a lack of clarity in its policies.

'Woolly'

"Sometimes guidance from the the department to schools is too woolly," she said.

Henry's self-confessed "overprotective mummy" Sandra Miskimmin said the 14-year-old's punishment meant he could not interact with his friends for two days.

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Media captionSandra Miskimmin said the school's treatment of her son was "bullying"

Mrs Miskimmin said Henry was put in a separate room from his classmates and sent on his lunch break outside of the normal hours.

She also said the school did not tell her Henry was being punished, calling it "a form of bullying".

Mrs Miskimmin said she had a meeting with the school, and Henry has been returned to his usual classes.

The school said it was "dealing with the parent concerned", but declined the offer of an interview.