Sandra Dick: Toeing line isn’t worth dyeing over

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ZANY. There’s a word you don’t often hear banded about these days.

Zany and “school ban”. It’s all a bit like we’ve time travelled back to 1974, punk rock has just been invented and teachers born when Hitler was goose stepping across Europe had their robes in a right tangle over safety pins and spiky hair.

Boroughmuir High head David Dempster rolled back the years by warning students against dyeing their hair in “zany” bright colours, arguing that if they want to dabble with the dye then maybe do it when they’re not at school.

In a further “blow” that probably had pupils rushing to Boots to stock up on bright pink, purple and blue dye, he warned they may not to be allowed to go on school trips to places like the Scottish Parliament if their locks weren’t a more natural shade.

Poor Mr Dempster was simply trying to encourage youngsters to appreciate that sometimes the world of work – should today’s teens ever find out what that is – might prefer it if the staff did not roll up looking like Marge Simpson.

I don’t doubt he planned to follow up his hair dye edict with another suggesting teenage girls might like to wear something on their lower half and avoid the blazer, shirt and nothing else look, but given the recent dye backlash, it’s probably best to keep his powder dry on that one.

Personally, I can’t fault him for attempting to encourage pupils to adhere to some kind of code that includes coming to class without looking like you’ve just somersaulted in from Billy Smart’s Circus, clown division.

But as every demented parent with a teen knows, you pick your fights. And dabbling with a hormonal youngster’s right to look completely ridiculous is something you interfere with at your peril.

Besides, surely by now every teacher knows there’s nothing like a school rule to make mums and dads crank up the outrage – even if for every parent enraged their darling should be told how to look by the school fuddy-duddy, there’s another who’s absolutely delighted to have a helping hand in that particular argument.

At the end of the day, Mr Dempster seems simply to be trying to remind pupils that however much we all might want to “express our individuality” and show off our expertise with the dye kit, sometimes in life we do actually have to toe the line. Like it or not, that’s how society works.

None of which is really worth dyeing over, is it?