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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 November 2007, 13:12 GMT
'Bangle' pupil is excluded again
Sarika Singh arriving at school on Tuesday
Sarika Singh refuses to remove her Kara bracelet
A Sikh pupil who has refused to stop wearing a religious bangle or Kara to her south Wales school has been excluded for a third time.

Sarika Singh, 14, had returned to Aberdare Girls' School in the Cynon Valley, after a temporary exclusion, for a meeting to discuss the issue.

The school has said that by wearing the Kara, Sarika was breaking its code of conduct.

Her family have said they will now seek a judicial review.

On Tuesday morning, Sarika and her mother Sinita Singh and two officials from the Valleys Race Equality Council (VREC) held a 20-minute meeting about the school's refusal to allow the pupil to wear the Kara.

After the meeting, Wayne Lee, of the VREC said: "Sarika is very upset and wants to go back into school. She's a good student and she wants to see her friends, like any other 14-year-old.

"I can't discuss what was said in too much detail, but Sarika has been excluded from school again. I don't know yet for how long, we will find out in due course."

Aberdare Girls School
Aberdare Girls' School only allows ear studs and a wrist-watch

Mrs Singh added: "We are very, very disappointed, but the school has made their decision. That's all I can say at the moment."

The school's head teacher Jane Rosser said she did not want to comment until she had informed Mrs Singh of her decision in writing.

The school prohibits all jewellery, except for plain metal ear studs and wrist-watches, and said the policy ensures equality.

But the family argue the Kara is an important reminder to devout Sikhs to do good and not bad with the hands and should not be treated as jewellery.

It is worn by Sikhs at all times and is one of five articles of faith - the 5 Ks.

The 5 Ks of Sikhism
Sarika Singh and her Kara
Kesh (uncut hair)
Kara (a steel bracelet)
Kanga (a wooden comb)
Kaccha - also spelt, Kachh, Kachera (cotton underwear)
Kirpan (steel sword)

The exclusion was taken after the half-term holidays on 5 November when Sarika continued to ignore the ban following a failed appeal.

Governors rejected Sarika's request to wear the bangle after a "significant period of research", examining the uniform policy and human rights legislation in detail.

"Best practice"

South Wales Central AM Leanne Wood wants clear school uniform guidance from the assembly government regarding religious symbols and jewellery.

"I think everyone will recognise that schools sometimes face difficult decisions when balancing the need for a consistent uniform policy with religious beliefs, " Ms Woods said.

Cynon Valley AM Christine Chapman said she had asked for the Children's Commissioner for Wales to get involved because she was concerned for Sarika's welfare.

"From speaking to experts in this field, this is akin to asking a Sikh boy to remove his turban, which most people would find unacceptable," she said.

"From taking soundings from schools in Birmingham and Cardiff, the wearing of the Kara in schools is allowed as best practice."

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly Government said that school uniform policy was a matter for the governing body.

However, she said the government would shortly be issuing guidance on school uniform policy considering issues including health and safety as well as equality and discrimination.



SEE ALSO
Sikh pupil excluded over bangle
06 Nov 07 |  South East Wales

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