Dress Codes receive High Court scrutiny

30 Jun 2011

On 17 June, the High Court decided in G v St Gregory’s Catholic Science College that a dress code, which prohibited a pupil of African-Caribbean origin wearing his hair in cornrows, was discriminatory. The school turned him away on his first day, and he ended up going somewhere else. Unfortunately for St Gregory’s, DCSF Guidance warns: “An example of indirect discrimination could be a school that bans ‘cornrow’ hairstyles. As these are more likely to be adopted by specific racial groups, banning this type of hairstyle without justification could constitute indirect racial discrimination.” The school’s explanation was that it had a Catholic ethos, and wished to discourage “gang culture” by, inter alia, strict rules on hair styles (short back and sides for boys) and on dress (no hoodies, bandanas, etc.).  The High Court held that this policy was indirectly racially discriminatory, and unjustfied. However, Collins J. declined to find that the policy also discriminated on grounds of sex, holding that cornrow hairstyles for boys were unconventional. This latter part of the decision seems questionable.

Read the judgment on BAILII here:



This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of Chambers or by Chambers as a whole.


Please note that we do not give legal advice on individual cases which may relate to this content other than by way of formal instruction of a member of Gatehouse Chambers. However, if you have any other queries about this content please contact: