Principal defends controversial 'Dear Hairdresser' letter


THE school principal who sent out letters to hairsalons outlining strict hairstyle requirements for their students has said the school meant no offence.

Cooloola Christian College sent the letter to salons in Gympie to make them aware of the school's strict cut and style policy, which restricts girls to no more than two plaits, and no "faddish" hairstyles for any student.  

Scrunchies and hair devices must not be decorative and must be in school colours.  

It was the first time the school has sent letter to hairsalons, and Principal Trevor Norman has not received any formal complaints from business owners and said the school meant no offence.  

"I am not aware of any hairsalons getting back to us with any concerns," Mr Norman said.  

"In the end, the hairsalons have their own businesses to run. I am not trying to suggest they run their business in any way.  

"For us it is the benefit for our own students. In a similar way we tell businesses in town that sell shoes that these are the shoes our students can and can't buy. We work along those similar lines.  

"They can work with their own clients. The children understand our policy, if they make good or bad decisions either way, we can work with them when they are back at school."  

A letter sent to local hairdressing salons by Cooloola Christian College.
A letter sent to local hairdressing salons by Cooloola Christian College. Renee Albrecht

"Sometimes students come to school with a uniform which doesn't fit within the guidelines and we speak to them about that. There's sometimes some push back and we accept that too.  

"The parents probably put up with more than we do.   "They (students) don't get yelled at and it isn't about bad decisions, but it's about making the best decision possible."  

Mr Norman said the school does not have a vendetta on style.  

"I suppose it is just the different hairstyles. Whether it is putting a bit of colour in, a bit of slight colour, or shaving or something like that.  

"Sometimes we might say to a student they've probably gone a little close there. Next time you go for a haircut probably don't go for a number one blade."  

The principal said the guidelines are no different from what other schools set.  

"Most schools have policies around what students can do with their hairstyles.  

"We are trying to help our students with their appearance around how they present themselves.  

"The impetuous was to set some guidelines around that."  

Mr Norman said parents are well aware of the guidelines the school receives strong support for uniform guidelines.   "Most parents respect that and recognise when their children grow up, their children will have guidelines in the workplace.  

"They appreciate that the students have those societal guidelines.  

"It's about being an independent school, they respect that. Having uniform guidelines is part of that package."

Close-up of a hairdresser cutting the hair of a woman.
Close-up of a hairdresser cutting the hair of a woman. Milan Markovic


A GYMPIE hairdresser was shocked to be given written orders this week by a local school on how to cut the hair of its students.

Streetwise Hair owner Lorraine Carter said the 'Dear Hairdresser' letter arrived in the post on Monday stringently outlining the school's acceptable hairstyles that do not include: hair below the eyebrows, girls to have more than two plaits and boys' hair clipped below a number 3.

Clips, bands and ribbons are also for functional purposes 'not merely decorative.'

"When I opened the letter I got the shock of my life," the experienced hairdresser said.

"I've been a hairdresser for 35 years and I've never seen anything like it.

"The way the letter was written it is was stipulating exactly what the child's haircut needs to be like."

A Gympie hairdresser was shocked to receive this letter from a local school.
A Gympie hairdresser was shocked to receive this letter from a local school. Contributed

The school had opened with contents of the letter as 'being helpful' to the business.

"From time to time we have students arrive at school with a haircut that falls outside our hairstyle policy which can be problematic for parents and students," the letter said.

"By being aware of our requirements then you may be able to assist your clients in selecting a suitable cut/style, or at least notify them that their choice may cause an issue at school."

Mrs Carter said the school's directive had put her in an extremely awkward position with her clients.

"I feel that it's up to the parents as to how a haircut goes - they're actually paying for the haircut not the school.

"It was very to the point."

She also believes the strict rules are squashing a child's way of expressing themselves.

"I think for children it's their way of expressing their individuality. If their parents don't have a problem, why should they (the school)."

The full guidelines, that were included in the letter sent to at least two Gympie hairdressing businesses, are outlined below:

  • Students are expected to keep their hair looking natural, clean and well-groomed.
  • Hair is to be worn away from the face and not falling below the eyebrows to accommodate Health & safety regulations in workshops, etc. Clips should be used to ensure hair does not impair vision.
  • Girls' hair below the collar must all be tied back; no more than (2) plaits.
  • Ribbons/scrunchies/clips/bands in school colours may be worn. Hair accessories should be functional, not merely decorative.
  • Boys' hair should be no longer than collar and no shorter than an umber three clipper. No rat's tails.
  • The head is not to be fully or partially shaved.
  • Faddish hairstyles are acceptable.
  • Any noticeable and/or blatant change to hair colour (dying or bleaching) will incur immediate suspension until the colour reverts to its original colour.
Gympie Times

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