Lifting the veil

Should have seen it coming really.

Last week David Cameron said this:

“What does matter is if, for instance, a school has a uniform policy, sensitively put in place and all the rest of it, and people want to flout that uniform policy, often for reasons that aren’t connected to religion, you should always come down on the side of the school.”

Mr Cameron added: “When you are coming into contact with an institution or you’re in court, or if you need to be able to see someone’s face at the border, then I will always back the authority and institution that have put in place proper and sensible rules.

“Going for the more sort of French approach of banning an item of clothing, I don’t think that’s the way we do things in this country and I don’t think that would help.”

All very reasonable? No banning. Well, not quite.

Today we have the HMCI coming out with this statement, contains the following:

Ofsted’s Chief Inspector today gave his full support to school and college leaders who decide to take a stand against the inappropriate wearing of the veil.

Sir Michael Wilshaw has now instructed his inspectors to mark down institutions if they judge the wearing of the veil is acting as a barrier to learning and to positive social interaction.

and follows up with:

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.

He (or his supporters) can attempt to argue otherwise but this is a de facto ban on the wearing of the veil in any schools other than those that are already Outstanding (and don’t have stagnant results).

I’m not even going to get into the question of how do they judge this. I am more concerned of the drip, drip, drip of fundamental change occurring without proper legislative backing. Last week the government attempted to dismantle the student grant system without parliamentary scrutiny. This is an attempt to impose a ban on the veil in schools, again, with no scrutiny.

Both Cameron and Wilshaw seem to have forgotten their basic British Values. This, gentlemen, is not how we do things here.

I would hope that school leaders would have no truck with this. No compromises. No allowing heads to work as Ofsted inspectors until this is withdrawn. I would also hope that the current cohort of HMI would make their views known and urge a change.

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