SHAFAQNA – Muslim leaders in the West and a teachers’ union have hit back at “threats” by education regulator Ofsted to downgrade schools which allow pupils to wear full veils to classes.
Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote to schools saying he will “back them” if they choose to ban the wearing of veils in their classrooms.
He instructed inspectors to “mark down” institutions if they think the veil will act as “a barrier to learning” and to consider marking them as inadequate – the lowest possible grade.
Sir Michael wrote: “I am concerned some heads and principals who are trying to restrict the wearing of the full veil in certain circumstances are coming under pressure from others to relax their policy.
“I want to assure these leaders that they can rely on my full backing.”
He added: “I have also made clear to my inspectors that where leaders are condoning the wearing of the face veil by staff members or by pupils when this is clearly hindering communication and effective teaching, they should give consideration to judging the school as inadequate.”
Abdul Malik, chairman of Easton Jamia Mosque in Bristol, said: “It’s difficult to see where they are coming from. Is this supposed to help with integration. I don’t think so. I think it’s ridiculous.
“This is a step in the wrong direction. I think the Government has become too involved with the everyday life of the Muslim person.”
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “Rather than assisting school leaders this will have the effect of alienating many staff and pupils.”
Sir Michael’s views follow comments from the Education Secretary and Prime Minister supportinghead teachers wanting to ban veils.