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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 13:16 GMT
Nose stud row keeps pupil at home

A teenager has been withdrawn from school by her father after being told she would not be allowed into classes with a nose stud.

Emma Wignell, 15, had had her nose pierced as a birthday present and must keep the stud in for four weeks to stop the hole closing up.

If you come to Mark Rutherford then you accept the codes at the school

John Brandon, head teacher
But the rules at Mark Rutherford Upper School in Bedford, Bedfordshire dictate that no body piercing jewellery is allowed.

Emma has been told she can still come to school, but must stay in isolation from her classmates.

"There are at least two other girls in my year who come to school wearing nose studs and they don't get put into isolation," Emma said.

"I offered to wear a plaster over it until I can take it out, but they said no. As soon as the hole has healed I'll take it out for school," she said.

'Accept the rules'

The school's head teacher, John Brandon, said most of the pupils accepted the rules.

"If you come to Mark Rutherford then you accept the codes at the school," Mr Brandon said.

I'm not prepared to let Emma be treated as if she has done something to be punished for

Keith Wignall, Emma's father
"We have a uniform code and a dress code and mostly it seems to work because we are quite a successful school."

The school's discipline code stressed that pupils needed to adopt a disciplined approach to life, he said.

"We are heavily over subscribed, we have got a third of your youngsters going on to university, we have got 85% staying in education post-16 and it's because mostly people are saying: 'If I want to achieve anything in life, I have to be disciplined'," Mr Brandon said.

'Very unfair'

Her father, Keith Wignall, was angered by the school's stance, saying isolation meant the teenager would be left with no teacher.

"The other day they wouldn't let her outside, even at break and at lunchtime," Mr Wignall said.

"I'm not prepared to let Emma be treated as if she has done something to be punished for.

"This is very unfair. Nobody at the school has ever said nose piercing is against the rules," he said.

Mr Wignall said he would keep her at home for up to four weeks, until the hole had healed.

Welfare investigation

But Bedfordshire County Council said the matter would be investigated by the education welfare service if he continued to keep his daughter at home.

"The uniform code of the school says that no body piercing jewellery is allowed," a council spokesman said.

"If students come to school wearing this jewellery, they are asked to remove it. This rule applies to all students."

Emma, who was aware of the rules, had refused to remove her stud, the spokesman added.

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