A Basingstoke headteacher has written to parents after pupils accused her of defending the use of a racial slur.

In a letter, Nicola Pearce said a conversation she had with a student has been taken “out of context” and implied she thought the use of the word was allowed due to freedom of speech.

The headmistress wrote: “This is clearly not my view or the conversation that was had. I clarified this with the student involved in the conversation.

“The word is very emotive word where its history is complex and complicated. The most recent use of it in films and music complicates the issue further. The context of its use is essential to its intent.

“Some students and adults will hold the view that the word should never be said out loud in any situation, others will hold a view that it can be said when referring to the word itself, others will view that in some circumstances it may be acceptable such as in music but it will depend on who it saying it.

“What is clear is there are a range of opinions which are in conflict with each other. Those who use the word as a racial slur should always be clear that it is always offensive and not acceptable in any situation.

“This is a difficult conversation to have with our community but essential if we are to move to a situation where there is a shared decision of what is agreed acceptable language in our school.”

The teacher went onto say that she acknowledged that students felt “we have not done enough or acted quickly enough in this area” and are bringing forward planning and prioritising “this conversation”.

Students are preparing to protest outside the school tomorrow, calling for an apology from the headteacher over the handling of recent racist incidents.