A Borehamwood A-level student did not sit his exams this week after refusing to remove an eyebrow piercing which breaks school rules.

Dean Swan was sent home from Hertswood sixth form and told he could not return or sit his exams unless he removed the bolt piercing he received as a Christmas present from his mother.

But the 17-year-old refuses to remove the piercing, claiming he is being treated unfairly, and is determined to take on the school authorities as a matter of principle.

He faces losing a year of education before he can get a place at college in September.

Headteacher Jan Palmer-Sayer said the school's rules on piercings were very clear to parents and pupils and had not changed in three years.

She said: "We don't allow facial piercings, and that applies to all students including the sixth form. Dean is aware of that.

"If you want piercings done, do it at the beginning of the summer holidays so it will have a chance to heal."

Dean said: "They have said I can't go on the site with it in but I don't see why I have to remove it. I'm not the first one to do it but I'm the first to be punished.

"If I took it out now, it would close over within half an hour."

The school rulebook states that any form of body piercing other than the ears is not permitted and it reserves the right to decide what is unacceptable.

Dean, of Penscroft Gardens, said he felt discriminated against because many of the girls at school had nose and bellybutton piercings as well as tattoos.

He said: "They are not willing to compromise. I offered to cover it with a plaster but they said that wasn't acceptable. The rule is no body piercing for health and safety reasons but I don't play football and I can't get it ripped out doing psychology."

Mrs Palmer-Sayer said that in a school of 1,400 students there would always be some who broke the rules but insisted that they should apply equally to everyone.

"I am sure that the vast majority of parents will approve the school for keeping high standards and equal treatment for everybody," she said.