A BRIGHT youngster has been told he must cut his hair if he wants to take up his place at a grammar school.

Alfie Howard-Hughes, 11, was accepted into Colchester Royal Grammar School after passing his 11+ exams.

But Alfie, whose hair is 27 inches long, has been told it does not meet the school’s Code of Conduct.

The policy says boys’ hair must be no longer than collar length in order to look smart.

Alfie, who was the first head boy at Cherry Tree Primary School in Colchester, was disappointed when he found out.

His parents, Gary Howard and Katy Cox, are now considering legal action.

Katy said: “Alfie was disappointed. We knew of the policy before he sat the 11+ but because he hadn’t secured a place it could have been a non-issue so we didn’t look to much into it.

“When he did secure the place we discussed it and spoke about the possibility of cutting it and it was like I’d suggested he cut his leg off. He didn’t think it was fair at all.

“At 11-years-old this child doesn’t see the difference between what boys and girls are able to do or be, he just accepts people for their individual likes and felt let down the school didn’t see things the same way.”

Alfie flew through his 11+ and has achieved top SATs results. He has hopes of becoming a quantum physicist.

Alfie even wrote a letter to the grammar school’s headteacher John Russell to challenge the policy.

The school can accept 128 students - 518 applied in September last year.

Katy said: “The response was the policy was to encourage a positive working ethos that would support them into settling into future careers.

“After Alfie wrote another letter we took over correspondence as parents. After some research we found no profession, except the military, that requires men to have short hair - just that it is clean, neat and tidy.”

Alfie’s dad, Gary, also went to Colchester Royal Grammar School as a pupil. He was aware of the rule but thought it might have changed over the passage of time.

He said: “I just think the whole thing is transparently sexist, girls in sixth form are allowed long hair but boys are not.”

Gary and Katy have contacted the Child Law Advice Service.

Katy said: “We don’t want to have to take legal action. We agree with rules but there are some rules that need challenging for the sake of progress and we, and more importantly Alfie, feel like this is a rule that needs challenging.

“Alfie is the lead on this, he says he isn’t just fighting for himself but all those other boys who want to have long hair and the people who can’t express their identity.”

A letter from Mr Russell said he appreciated Alfie’s passion but stood by the policy. It said: “The fundamental reason for the school having specific standards on dress and personal appearance is to prepare students for a successful educational and personal career.

“My senior leadership team and I regularly review the code of conduct in light of any representations from students.”

He said the maximum length of hair will stay the same.

Katy said: “I left Alfie’s hair until he was old enough to decide he wanted it cut himself, thinking when he started school he’d probably want it cut to fit in.

“However, he didn’t, we had a little trouble when he first started school and I gave him the option of cutting it but his hair meant more to him than that.

“There’s never, until now, been much more discussion over it.”

Katy added: “The only time his classmates made comment on it was when a visitor came to the school and mistook Alfie for a girl.

“His classmates would jump in quicker than Alfie himself to correct them.

“As for family, and he has a huge one, nothing has ever really been said by anyone. They all love his individuality and the confidence he has to be himself.”

We contacted the school for a comment but it did not respond.

'Long hair does not get in the way' 

HIGH-FLYING men from Colchester and beyond have proved long hair does not get in the way of success. 
Michael Beckett has worked his way up from interim manager to chief officer at Colchester Foodbank. 
He has not experienced any setbacks having long hair.
He said: "Generally speaking if you show you can do a good job and you are competent most people will respect you. 
"Appearance is an issue and some people are less open to working with people who have long hair, but it's the same for people who have tattoos and piercings. 
"I have got on with doing a good job and I don't think having long hair gets in the way." 
Dundee MP Christopher Law also sports a long ponytail. His hairstyle has sparked so much media attention it has its own Twitter account. 
Historically, Sir Isaac Newton and William Shakespeare both had long hair. 
However Colonel Richard Kemp from Colchester, who served as the commander of British Forces in Afghanistan from July until November 2003, feels standards need to be set from a young age. 
He said: "One thing that is often lacking in children nowadays is discipline. 
"It does affect a lot of aspects of their lives in terms of punctuality and work ethic. 
"I think it's quite right schools should have set standards of dress and appearance. 
"It helps them when it comes to finding work, if you go to a job interview and look untidy the employer will have a bad impression."