Sunderland reacts to Ofsted chief inspector’s full face veil statement

Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw delivers his keynote speech about ambitions for English education at CentreForum, at the Guildhall, London.
Chief Inspector of Schools Sir Michael Wilshaw delivers his keynote speech about ambitions for English education at CentreForum, at the Guildhall, London.

People from Sunderland have reacted to the Ofsted chief inspector’s full veil statement.

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

The full face veil is also known as the niqab. It is a veil for the face that leaves the area around the eyes clear.

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.

The Prime Minister David Cameron and the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan have spoken about this issue.

Sir Michael, said: “The Prime Minister and Secretary of State are right to give their backing to schools and other institutions which insist on removing face coverings when it makes sense to do so.

I am concerned that 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 for the stance they are taking.

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.

I am determined to ensure that discrimination, including on the grounds of gender, has no place in our classrooms.

We want our schools, whether faith schools or non-faith schools, to prepare their pupils equally for life in 21st century Britain. We need to be confident our children’s education and future prospects are not being harmed in any way.

Some people in Sunderland have been able to understand the views of Sir Michael.

Ramsha Nayab, 20, said: “I can see where people are coming from. I agree that schools should be protected, and having worked in secondary schools, I can share the concern of schools.

“However, I’m also viewing it from people who wear the full veil and for them it must be horrible. They must feel isolated and discriminated against.

“England is a country of opportunities and free speech. However, I find that people in full veils must feel discouraged from this field as this is their religion.

“I don’t wear the full veil, I only wear the hijab, which hides all of my hair. But if someone tomorrow said I had to show my hair for a certain job type then I certainly wouldn’t, because I’m devoted to my religion.

“I understand the concern from both sides but I believe the Government could have came up with a better solution.”

Lesley Charlton, 20, added: “I don’t think it will be a barrier to learning and social interaction.

“I don’t think it matters what you wear if someone wants to interact with you they will. If its someone’s religion then they should be allowed to wear it where and wherever they want.”

Rehana Kosar, 50, said: “I think it’s really disappointing that majority of people have to suffer because of the fault of a few minority.

“The lives of some of these women depends on their religion and this will discourage many from this field.”

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