THE school that has excluded a Sikh girl for wearing a steel bracelet crucial to her faith has been breaking race equality law for more than five years, we can reveal today.
Sarika Watkins-Singh, 14, was sent home by Aberdare Girls’ School on November 5 after refusing to remove her kara bangle, one of the five symbols of Sikh identity.
According to the school, wearing the kara is against regulations because it is a piece of jewellery. But Sarika, of Cwmbach, near Aberdare, maintains her human rights are being infringed, and with the help of the Valleys Race Equality Council and the pressure group Liberty is mounting a legal challenge to the school’s decision.
It has now emerged that the school has not been in compliance with a legal requirement to have a proper race equality policy in place. An audit by the local education authority, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, established earlier this year that a number of schools, including Aberdare Girls, were not compliant.
Sarika’s supporters point out that since a House of Lords judgment in 1983, after a school had excluded a pupil for wearing a turban, it has been established in law that Sikhs are a racial group that is capable of being discriminated against.
Schools in areas with a higher proportion of pupils from ethnic minorities than Aberdare, like Cardiff, have no problem with children wearing the kara.
A spokeswoman for Rhondda Cynon Taf Council explained that, while the school did have a policy in place, it was not one that complied with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act. [Link]
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