Schoolgirl forced to remove bracelet given to her by her late father

Heartbroken schoolgirl is forced to remove bracelet given to her by her late father in a row over uniform standards

  • Hayley Bouwer-Oliver is an autistic schoolgirl who is afraid of large groups 
  • She was taken into a hall where she was singled out and told to take off braclet 

The mother of an autistic schoolgirl is furious after teachers made her daughter take off a special bracelet given to her by her dead father over a row about school uniforms.

Hayley Bouwer-Oliver attends Peacehaven Community School, in East Sussex, and was left ‘scared and anxious’ after being singled out in a school hall in front of her peers.

Not only was the bracelet given to her by her late dad, but it is also for her anxiety and stops her from scratching until her skin bleeds.

Hayley’s father Terry Oliver died aged 45 after suffering bacterial meningitis in 2019 and gave his daughter the bracelet just before he passed away.

Pictured, Shereen Bouwer (left) and Hayley Bouwer-Oliver outside the Peacehaven Community School

The schoolgirl’s mother, Shereen Bouwer, said Peacehaven Community School allowed Hayley to wear the bracelet and a ring last year but things changed ‘out of the blue’ on Monday.

Mrs Bouwer said: ‘Hayley is met by a teacher when she arrives at school and is taught in a specialist classroom due to her fear of large groups.

‘But on Monday, she was taken to the school hall where all other students were having their uniform inspected.’

Hayley was told to remove her bracelet and to remove her ring, though the headteacher said she could wear it underneath her school shirt on a necklace from the following day.

‘How is she supposed to wear the ring under her shirt and tie? It doesn’t make sense,’ said Mrs Bouwer.

Hayley’s sister Erin was also told to remove her own bracelet and did so ‘to avoid confrontation’.

Mrs Bouwer said a teacher told Erin in front of Hayley: ‘Well done for making the correct decision.’

She also claims this was an effort to play the sisters off one another and to make Hayley feel bad.

Hayley was then threatened with isolation with a large group of students who had failed to arrive in the correct uniform.

She responded by locking herself in a toilet cubicle, a past coping mechanism which she had overcome but which the situation forced her to revisit.

‘It made me feel bad, like I had done something wrong,’ said Hayley.

‘I was scared and anxious. I trusted my teacher a lot but they took me into a situation that I was not comfortable with.’

Notes held by the school say that Hayley finds communicating with adults incredibly difficult unless it is a trusted adult, she does not like to be around large numbers of people and her anxiety causes significant barriers to attending school.

Meanwhile, the school’s own policy says: ‘Building self-esteem occurs inside and outside the classroom. Every student at PCS is valued.

The bracelet was given to Hayley by her dad before he sadly passed away and it also helps her stop scratching 

‘Our community celebrates individual style and skills. We will strive to ensure that our differences do not become barriers to participation.

‘We recognise that we cannot achieve true equality of opportunity and outcome for all by treating everyone the same.

‘We have due regard to ensure that persons with a protected characteristic are not negatively impacted as a result of our decision or policy making.’

Mrs Bouwer has stopped her children from going to school after the incident, to protect their mental health.

This latest incident follows claims a teacher told 100 girls to change or go home in a row over the length of their skirts.

Mrs Bouwer added: ‘I know how hard my children try just to go into school, so for this to have happened is very frustrating.

‘They make us parents feel like we are being unreasonable like we want to break the rules and that we are using our children’s issues as an excuse.’

Peacehaven Community School did not respond to a request for comment.

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