Parents and womens’ rights campaigners have been expressing their anger after the headteacher of a Southend secondary school sent a female pupil home for looking TOO PRETTY in her uniform. According to the printed letter that 13-year-old Isabella Prudence was asked to pass on to her parents, she arrived at school on Monday 7th March displaying a level of attractiveness that was ‘inappropriate’ for a mixed-sex school – the letter indicated that the decision had been taken in the best interests of both Isabella and other pupils.
Isabella’s mother Michelle contacted Southend News Network to say that she was ‘outraged’ at the decision taken by headteacher Dr Clive Gland of Burdett Avenue Secondary Academy in Southend. She said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when Isabella walked through the front door yesterday at 9.30 with tears rolling down her face. She told me that the headteacher had taken one look at her and told her to wait in his office, and then a few minutes later he handed her a letter and said that while her uniform was well within the school’s policy in terms of skirt length and visible skin, she was facially displaying a level of attractiveness that could be inappropriate with so many male students in the school. He accepted that she wasn’t wearing any make up, but at the same time he felt that her choice of glasses was needlessly provocative for an environment of learning.’
Isabella, 13, added: ‘It was my birthday at the weekend, and so mum treated me to a new pair of glasses as my old ones were broken – I had no idea that they were not appropriate. I think that this is really unfair as now I have to do all of my school work at home until we can get replacement glasses from the optician, and I have to be really careful to choose ones that won’t make me look too pretty.’
Southend News Network understands that an appointment has been made for new glasses to be arranged, but we contacted Dr Gland at Burdett Avenue Secondary Academy to ask if he thought that the school had overreacted in this situation. He said: ‘While we commend Isabella for conforming with our strict but essential school uniform policy about make up, skirt length and visible skin, her well-groomed hairstyle and choice of glasses on Monday morning meant that she was getting a lot of attention from our male pupils, and so I took the decision to send her home to ensure that all students in our school have a focused environment for learning.’
Dr Gland added: ‘We also have to bear in mind that Isabella chooses to walk to school as well, and while she is in uniform, we are ultimately responsible for her safety. If our male pupils were giving her a lot of attention, one can only imagine how older members of the public were looking at her as well – I would hope in time that both Isabella and her mother will realise that as a school we have a duty of care that must be upheld at all times. It is a sad fact of modern life that all female pupils need to adopt an appropriate and conservative appearance for their own safety both inside of school and outside.’