Pupils protest after girl, 13, with hair loss banned from wearing cap that broke uniform policy

·4 min read
Ella Goodwin, 13, outside Heritage High School, Clowne, Derbyshire. (SWNS)
Ella Goodwin, 13, outside Heritage High School in Clowne, Derbyshire. (SWNS)

A school was forced to back down after banning a 13-year-old girl with a rare disease that means her hair falls out from wearing a cap after pupils walked out in protest.

Ella Goodwin was told by teachers at Heritage High School in Clowne, Derbyshire, that she was not allowed to wear a cap and hoodie to cover her head because it broke uniform policy.

She was diagnosed with chronic recurrent multifocal osteomyelitis (CRMO) two-and-a-half years ago after her long brown locks started falling out in clumps.

Read: Thousands queue at Bolton ‘vaccine bus’ as India variant surges

After having her head shaved for the Princess Trust charity, she asked to wear a black cap to her school, which has 885 pupils aged between 11 and 16.

However, the teachers refused even after the teenager stitched the school badge onto the side of the cap to make it look smarter.

The decision caused outrage among her classmates, who staged a walkout on Monday in protest. 

Ella Goodwin, who in recent months has experienced severe hair loss.  A teenager with a rare illness that has caused her hair to fall out can now wear a cap to school after pupils protested when her request was denied.  See SWNS story SWMDhair.  Ella Goodwin's father said the 13-year-old was told a cap or hoodie was not part of the uniform policy at Heritage High School in Clowne, Derbyshire.  The row led to a protest outside the school involving dozens of Ella's fellow pupils on Monday morning.  The school confirmed it has been agreed Ella can wear a cap and hoodie.  However Ella said she was frustrated that the school did not agree to her request earlier.
Ella has in recent months experienced severe hair loss. (SWNS)

Footage shows dozens of pupils chanting “Justice for Ella” while waving banners and wearing caps and hoodies in support of the youngster.

Later that day, the school performed a U-turn and agreed to let Ella wear her cap in class.

Ella, who takes medication to combat chronic pain caused by the disease, said: “I just think rules should be bent for someone going through something like this.”

"But it was an amazing feeling just to know how many people supported me,” she added.

"I'm not ashamed but wearing a cap and hoodie just gives me confidence and comfort.

"I would not have gone back to school without it.”

Watch: Schools could have covered up sex offences, police warn

Her parents Shaun Goodwin, 50, and Joanna Davies, 40, are now demanding the school formally apologises to their daughter.

Shaun said: “We did have a wig made for her which she didn’t like, so she started wearing a cap.

“We explained to the school that she didn’t like the wig and asked if there was any chance she could use a cap and a hoodie and they point blank said no.

“The headmaster wasn’t even in the meeting at the time. The decision was made by two head of years and they said Ella couldn’t wear the cap and said it wasn’t school uniform policy.

“They even said ‘What’s Ella going to do when she gets a job? Wear a hat and hoodie all her life?’

“I thought that was totally disrespectful as it’s not about Ella’s job at the moment it’s about her education.

Ella Goodwin, 13 and Joanne Davies, 41, outside Heritage High School, Clowne, Derbyshire. (SWNS)
Ella and her morhter Joanne Davies, 41, outside Heritage High School. (SWNS)

Shaun said Ella was “absolutely gutted” by their reaction, adding: “She was upset about it all which is very hard to see your child so upset like she was.”

“Ella shaved her hair off the week before this meeting and I think it hit home because she had long hair and she broke down and absolutely sobbed,” he added. 

The teenager, who has an identical twin Mya, raised £2,000 when she was sponsored to have her whole head shaved for charity.

Ella Goodwin in recent months has experienced severe hair loss.  (SWNS)
Ella was 'absolutely gutted' by the school's reaction. (SWNS)

Shaun, a stay-at-home father, who has four other children, also said the family would like to thank the pupils for their support.

He said: “We are glad the school has changed its mind but we want a full apology. It should never have got to the stage where the pupils were protesting.

Read more:
Singapore shuts schools amid warning Indian variant could affect younger children more
Local lockdowns could be imposed in areas worst hit by Indian variant, Cabinet minister warns

“When we turned up at the school and saw all the children I got a lump in my throat and we spent the day outside in the rain and they stood there for Ella.”

A spokesperson for the Two Counties Trust, which runs the school, said: "We are happy to confirm that we have now been able to speak to Ella's family and have agreed with them that Ella can wear a cap and a hoodie to ensure she feels as comfortable and supported as possible when at school.

"We will continue to do everything we can to ensure Ella and her family are appropriately supported through this challenging period. No student has been sanctioned around this matter."

Watch: Calls for 'swift decisive action' over