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Newark mother’s disgust as Magnus Church of England Academy pupil banned from classroom for having ears pierced

A mother has accused a school of shaming her daughter for wearing earrings to lessons.

Concerned mother, Helen Gent, of Newark is fighting for her daughter’s education after Lucille, 14, a year eight pupil at Magnus Church of England Academy, Newark.

Lucille, an A and B grade student, got her ears pierced during the half-term holidays and would have to wait a minimum of six to eight weeks for her studs to heal before being able to remove them without a risk of infection.

Helen Gent.
Helen Gent.

She starts GCSEs this year and is on the Duke of Edinburgh course, which makes it essential that she doesn’t miss any of her classes to obtain the bronze DofE certificate her mother said.

The school has offered the 14-year-old the option to either be in isolation or sit in the headteacher’s office for one-to-one classes for eight weeks.

Helen said: “Magnus has not accepted that forbidding a girl from accessing her education due to ear piercing is indirect sexism.

“The teachers don't understand what that is at all. It's basically saying that piercing her ears is shameful and should be punished by removing her valuable education.”

Helen wasn’t happy with either isolation or one-to-one classes as a solution and proposed that the teachers send the schoolwork for Lucille to do at home. She said that was denied and that Lucille would have an unauthorised absence each day.

Helen added: “Other local schools have the common sense, of course, to realise that having ear piercings doesn't affect a child's ability to learn, and they opt out of such trivial and unnecessary altercations with family home traditions, that aren't relevant to a child's learning ability. It's very odd indeed that the rules at Magnus continue to be so archaic and irrelevant, and not inclusive of family wishes.

In an email to the school, Helen compared how other schools such as Newark Academy, Suthers School and Nottingham Girls High School allow two pairs of stud earrings.

Following that email, Magnus offered Lucille the option to transfer to Suthers School, which Helen refused.

She said: “We originally applied to have Lucille go to Newark Academy and Suthers, but couldn't get her a place as they said they were over-subscribed and that we lived out of the catchment area.

“Now Magnus have told us that she can attend classes at Suthers school where they allow ear piercings.

“This is unacceptable as my daughter doesn't know anybody there, they haven't consulted us about moving schools, and I'm angry they're just sending her to another school with no consultation or permission with either myself or my daughter.

“But if she can attend classes at Suthers, then she should just be allowed to go back into her classes at Magnus.”

The school’s headteacher, Anna Martin spoke to Helen via email, reminding her that the school’s policies are available on its website.

She also said: “These have not changed since you joined the school, and reminders have been sent home many times.

“Yet, despite this, you still chose to have your ears pierced knowing you would not be able to take them out for school, and that this contravened a very clear school policy.

“We do recognise that earrings are a cultural norm and advise those wishing to have their ears pierced do so at the start of the summer holidays. This will allow them to heal before returning to school.

“We are not denying you an education and are happy for you to attend school. However, in cases where uniform cannot be corrected, we cannot sanction this.

“If you are not able to remove your earrings, we will provide education for you away from others so that standards are maintained across the school.

“To this end, we will ensure you have work supplied by your teachers to complete in one of our withdrawal rooms.

“Alternatively, we can accommodate you in my office. In all these places, there will be a member of staff available to support you with completing the work set.

“Once you can remove your earrings, you can of course return to lessons with your peers.

“If you choose instead to return home, this cannot be authorised and will affect your attendance.”

Lucille was first refused at school on June 3, however, the matter has been resolved and she returned on Thursday (June 13).

A spokesperson for Magnus Academy said: “Our uniform standards are clear and available on our website: https://www.magnusacademy.co.uk/parent-information/uniform/

“These have not changed in over six years, and reminders are sent home frequently throughout the year. On rare occasions, and where individuals do arrive at school having not followed our uniform policy, we always give them an opportunity to correct this. If they do not, or cannot correct their uniform, we provide work, along with full teacher support, for them to complete elsewhere within the school.

“We do not suspend for uniform breaches, and work with families to resolve them quickly.”

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