Fenland mum claims schools are "worse than a prison" after daughter is told to remove lip piercing

PUBLISHED: 17:29 16 September 2010

Neale-Wade student Shannon Coombs was told to remove her lip stud or go home.

Mother Angela looks on.

Neale-Wade student Shannon Coombs was told to remove her lip stud or go home. Mother Angela looks on.

Archant

EDUCATION chiefs this week defended a refreshed crackdown on students wearing excessive jewellery and make-up after claims that a teenager was told either to remove a lip piercing or find another school.

Since the start of the new school year Fenland’s secondary schools have been clamping down on students ignoring the dress code by wearing jewellery and make-up – with some checking the colour of socks.

But mum Angela Coombs described the schools’ move as “worse than a prison” after her 14-year-old daughter Shannon was told by a teacher at Neale-Wade Community College in March to remove a plastic retainer from her newly-pierced lip.

Students have also reacted angrily to the move and a Facebook campaign group has been created against the Neale-Wade crackdown. It has attracted more than 130 members.

Shannon’s parents were informed on the phone that these piercings were against school policy and were a health and safety risk.

Mrs Coombs, of Creek Road, March, who also went to Neale-Wade, claims the school said that if her daughter wanted to wear piercings there were “plenty of other schools” in the area.

She said: “When I was there I had three ear piercings and my nose pierced. I sent them there because I had a fun time at the school. Now, I regret that decision.

“I think it’s worse than a prison. Even in prison the inmates can wear their own clothes, have their own piercings and their own tattoos.

“Apparently their uniform is checked as they walk into each lesson. I think it’s got a bit ridiculous when they go as far as checking the colour of pupils’ socks. I can’t see how having piercings are affecting their education.”

Neale-Wade principal Tim Hitch said: “I find it disappointing that the Coombs family can’t support the standards that we are determined to introduce at Neale-Wade. Our aim is to raise academic and social achievement and we hope parents will assist us in this task.

“We feel that many parents support the college on this and we will continue to set clear guidelines on dress code, student attendance and punctuality.”

Jamie Coombs, Shannon’s father, has complained to Cambridgeshire County Council about the situation.

He said: “The school should put more time into bullying issues and less time into checking for piercings and sock colours.”

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