Sydney high school bans 10th graders from graduation because of wrong fingernails

Angry parents have lashed out at a Sydney high school after up to 70 students were denied their Year 10 graduation for wearing fake nails.

The students at the Mackellar Girls campus on the North Beaches were instead placed in a separate room and were not allowed to enter the main hall where the graduation ceremony was being held.

Speaking to, the mother of a pupil in lockdown, Sarah*, said many parents took time off to attend the gathering at 9.15am on Monday.

“Nobody had any idea where they were and the gathering started an hour later because they were disciplining the girls about the nails,” Sarah said.

“A lot of parents actually had to leave the ceremony because they had to go back to work.”

A large proportion of the students also had their nails done for their 10th grade graduation on Thursday, just four days before graduation.

Sarah said the nails were neutral and
Sarah said the nails were neutral and “hardly offensive” as photos of the nails were posted to Facebook.

Sarah said that the majority of the girls also attended another graduation ceremony the day after they graduated, so there was no point in having their fake nails removed.

“At least recognize them”

Eventually some of the students, including Sarah’s daughter Chrissy*, were allowed back into the hall but were told to sit at the back of the meeting and their names were not read out. Sarah said that being a parent was the “hardest part” for her.

“They acted like these girls didn’t exist. At least acknowledge them,” Sarah said.

Ultimately, she believes the decision wasn’t fair.

“The nails weren’t that offensive,” she said.

She also questioned why some of the teachers are allowed to wear bright red nails, but the students’ short, natural-colored acrylic nails have been criticized.

The Mackellar Girls campus is located in Manly Vale, a suburb of Sydney's Northern Beaches.
The Mackellar Girls campus is located in Manly Vale, a suburb of Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
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“I think that’s a slight double standard,” she added.

“This has been four years of her life, during Covid and lockdown. I understand that rules are rules, but treating them like that is not okay.

“It’s bullying and a form of intimidation and ostracism of these girls and you can’t do that anymore these days.”

College student forced to cut her own nails

Another 10th grade student was still barred from attending the ceremony, despite trimming her acrylic nails and receiving the all-clear from two teachers.

Her mum Lily* told that “every child deserves the right to a degree, whether they wear nail polish or not.”

“The management of the school is so out of touch and this behavior has been going on for years,” she added.

“It was like after four years of schooling, they never existed,” she added.

“There were so many parents who took time off work to be in attendance, to be there in the audience and not only not see their daughters receive their awards, but their names weren’t even recognized. Absolutely disgusting behavior for a publicly funded and run community school.”

The story, which first appeared on the Manly Observer social media page and Instagram, drew widespread attention from angry parents.

Numbers inaccurate: department responds

Northern Sydney District Council of P&C Associations President David Hope says the school’s actions are “completely unjustified”.

“The District Council will be in contact with the school’s P&C and will raise this matter with the Department for Education and the Minister for Education,” he told

“In our opinion, the school and the department do not have the authority to disfellowship these students because they had long fingernails.”

The NSW Department of Education and a spokesman for the NBSC Mackellar Girls Campus claimed the reported numbers were “inaccurate”. The figures are understood to indicate that 57 people were absent from the gathering.

A ministry spokesman was behind the school’s decision to ban the students.

“We understand that some students and parents are upset by the school’s decision, but all Mackellar Girls students and parents have received multiple written and oral counseling on uniform and behavior expectations since the beginning of the school year,” they said.

“This included specifically advising students and parents that acrylic nails are not acceptable in the school and specifically for the 10th grade congregation.”

The announcer claimed that although they were in the hall for the meeting, only 20 of 239 Year 10 students at the school did not receive their portfolios on stage due to their acrylic nails.

However, Chrissy believes that the number of 70 students is correct. She says about 50 girls were held in her classroom, in addition to another room with girls who were not allowed into the congregation.

“The teachers even said they didn’t agree with what they were doing but couldn’t do anything about it,” she added.

Though her daughter won’t be returning to the NBSC Mackellar Girls campus in 2023, Sarah says she’s speaking out because she doesn’t want future students to be treated the same way.

“To me, the way these girls have been treated is unacceptable. We live in 2022,” she said.

“I just don’t want it to happen to girls in the future.”

*Names changed Sydney high school bans 10th graders from graduation because of wrong fingernails


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