Pink hair costs Tamara work experience place at Grantham nursery

Corey (10) and Tamara (18) Cottingham. Tamara says she was turned away from a work placement because of the colour of her hair
Corey (10) and Tamara (18) Cottingham. Tamara says she was turned away from a work placement because of the colour of her hair

A Grantham mum is upset after her daughter was turned away from a work experience placement because of the colour of her hair.

Tamara Cottingham, 18, a second year childcare student at Grantham College, was told she could not work at a nursery because her pink hair was not part of the “uniform”.

Tamara’s mum Natasha, who described her daughter’s hair as “pretty pink” said: “I understand organisations have policies on uniform and appearance but I don’t think they should judge someone by the colour of their hair.

“They wouldn’t be able to discriminate on other grounds, so I don’t think it is right they should be able to do so over their hair colour.”

“I want to know how the colour of Tamara’s hair can inform an opinion of her potential, her passion for caring for children, her timekeeping and everything else to do with doing a job well.

“Tamara is quite shy and going for a work placement was nerve wracking anyway, so to be turned away was very upsetting for her.”

The planned work experience placement was arranged by Grantham College at Stepping Stones day nursery in the town.

Tamara, who lives with mum and 10-year-old brother Corey in Kedleston Road, Grantham, and hopes to specialise in caring for sick children when she completes her studies, went along to the the nursery in Agnes Street, on Monday lunchtime.

Mrs Cottingham says her daughter was smartly dressed in black trousers and a fitted top, and was not wearing make-up or jewellery.

Her hair was pulled back from her face in a ponytail and Mrs Cottingham insists her daughter looked “very presentable.”

Mrs Cottingham says Tamara was asked to wait in an office and when the manager returned she was told her hair colour was not part of the uniform and she would have to go back to college.

Mrs Cottingham, who works as a hair stylist at Avanti in Westgate, said: “It’s not as if Tamara’s hair looked stupid, outrageous or scruffy. She is not cheeky or rebellious. A lot of little girls love her hair. I thought that would have been a good thing. It wasn’t a problem when she worked as a part-time waitress.”

The owners of Stepping Stones Nursery in Grantham, issued a statement this week.

It said: “Our company has a strict dress and appearance policy which applies to all our staff. This is in line with the professional childcare service that we provide and that has resulted in the grading of outstanding by Ofsted.

“Additionally, we have a well publicised equality and diversity policy which is rigorously applied.”