Heads speak out against face veils in schools

Veils that stop teachers seeing pupils’ faces are ‘not suitable in school’, according to a headteachers’ leader.  A Home Office Minister started the debate about whether the state should step in to protect young women from having the veil ‘imposed’ on them.

Last week Birmingham Metropolitan College decided to ban veils and started a political row. It then backtracked, following a petition that attracted 8,000 signatures in 48 hours and criticism from politicians, The Telegraph reports. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies described the proposed ban as ‘massively divisive’.

Since then Jeremy Browne, a Liberal Democrat MP, has called for a national debate over the issue, saying that he is ‘instinctively uneasy’ about banning behaviour:  “..there is genuine debate about whether girls should feel a compulsion to wear a veil when society deems children to be unable to express personal choices about other areas like buying alcohol, smoking or getting married. We should be very cautious about imposing religious conformity on a society which has always valued freedom of expression,” he said.

The debate was fuelled last week when the Prime Minister’s spokesman said that Mr Cameron would have no problem with the veil being banned in his children’s schools. Tory MP Dr. Sarah Wollaston described the veils as ‘deeply offensive’ and claimed that they are ‘making women invisible’.  She suggested that the niqab should be banned in schools and colleges.

The BBC reports comments from Brian Lightman, ASCL’s general secretary, that although veils aren’t suitable in school there is no need for government legislation. Schools set their own dress code rules and this should remain the responsibility of headteachers and governing bodies, working with parents and the local community. “While schools understand and are sensitive to dress requirements for students from particular religious communities, including the Islamic head covering, it is widely understood that teachers need to see students’ facial expressions which is why full face veils are not suitable in school contexts,” he said.

Where do you stand in the veil debate? Should girls be allowed to wear the keep their faces covered in school – and what about teachers?

7 thoughts on “Heads speak out against face veils in schools

  1. Ban the veil.This is England not some far away despotic realm ! If an English girl went to Saudi dressed in a mini skirt, they’d freak out and ban it !
    Why should we be more tolerant then them ?

    Besides, the veil isn’t a religious requirement but a cultural one ! As such , if one lives in a society , one should adapt to the culture in that society. As for religion, it has no place in a secular environment !

    I can’t think of anything more anti-feminist then the veil !

  2. You say, “Why should we be more tolerant then them?”

    Perhaps you have answered this question yourself when you said, “This is England not some far away despotic realm !”

    If we start banning what people wear, simply because we don’t like it, or it doesn’t fit in with our culture, then we are no better than other “despotic realms” who prescribe what people can or can’t wear with regards to clothing.

    For issues or security: court appearances, passport control etc. I can see how it would be perfectly reasonable to ask a Muslim lady to temporarily remove her veil, but when we go further than this we are entering the realms of prescribing what clothing individuals may or may not wear, simply because we don’t like it. We ought to be very careful about legislating in order to impose our views of clothing upon others.

  3. I think it’s important to uncover whether or not girls are actually being ‘forced’ into wearing face veils or not. Muslim girls have told me that they choose when to wear it when they feel mature enough.

    Also, as a society we need to weigh up the importance of seeing the whole of someone’s face in school versus the importance of that person’s beliefs. I personally have no issue with it in the classroom and find ithat, perhaps surprisingly, it does not hamper communication at all. I wonder how many people who are against it actually work in schools with Muslim girls who wear face veils?

    In response to the previous post, why should we be more tolerant that Saudi Arabia? Because we are a humane country that treats people with understanding and respect, or we should strive to be. We should hold ourselves to the highest standards and encourage change through example rather than engage in petty tit for tat.

  4. Try:

    ‘more tolerant THAN them’.

    Funny how people who can’t string together a proper English sentence want to ban all sorts of things!

    During economic stress gullible people are manipulated by racist and xenophobic rhetoric.

    Muslims, Blacks and Jews can look forward to more of this drivel until the economy recovers.


  5. I agree. Covering faces in public spaces is not a good idea, it leaves people around feeling confused or even frighten. You don’t know who is behind the veil, might be a women or even a man. Maybe the person that you don’t expect to be. What about the exams? Who is behind the veil? Your pupil or her sister/brother/friend? What do they hold under the big black coats?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the veils in private places, it is a personal choice. I am not British and I think that people who choose to live in another country should follow and respect the culture of the chosen country.

    I saw a discussion on TV yesterday about the veils. There was a person defending the veils. She/he was wearing the veil and a black coat. The person said that she was a woman but I wasn’t convinced, maybe it was a man with a pitched voice?

  6. Britain is systematically and subtly controlled by political correctness to appease a violent and terrorist religion called ISLAM through its sectarian followers under the false pretense of rights and fairness.

  7. I do not agree with the veil or niqab as it is referred. I believe in order to communicate fully you need to see the person facial expression. It is obstructing when when you are in front of someone wearing the burka/hijab/niqab with just their eyes showing and trying to communicate. I would find this restricting and in someways contact would be apprehensive and not full as you would be questioning what the person look like, what are they thinking, why are they wearing such excluding items amongst others thereby reducing genuine interaction as barriers are in place to prevent this.

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