It has recently been announced by Ofsted Chief Sir Michael Wilshaw- on behalf of the Ofsted, that school inspectors have every right to rate any school as ‘inadequate’ if they believe that the wearing of a full face veil is becoming a ‘barrier to learning’ (1), coming after an announcement from PM David Cameron stating a ban of Muslim women wearing face veils in various British institutions (2). This new policy, which was written to all Ofsted inspectors on Tuesday, is likely to affect or have affected over 16,000 children and students and ‘just under 1,000 teachers’ (3). The Ofsted Chief has said that the inspection company will work with heads and principals in this new ban in face veils being worn in schools- although this was a two-sided argument, with support from ministers but criticism from Muslim leaders (4). “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,” replied Mr Wilshaw (5). However, not everyone is impressed with this new policy; Dr Sheik Howjat Ramzy ‘director of Iqra in Oxford’ said in response to this new policy “Not many pupils wear a veil. The veil doesn’t make pupils intelligent or not. It gives them their identity and security. Pupils have the right to wear the veils of they go to Islamic schools. That is no problem.” (6)
1, 5: Coughlan, S. (2016) Ofsted can downgrade schools for Islamic veils. BBC News. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-35411518 [accessed 27th January 2016]
4: Adams, R and Weale, S (2016) Ofsted chief backs schools that restrict ‘inappropriate wearing of veil.’ The Guardian Online. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/jan/26/schools-inspector-issues-veil-warning [accessed 27th January 2016]
2, 3, 6: Espinoza, J. (2016) Ofsted threatens to penalise schools where Muslim veil is worn. The Telegraph Online. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/12122713/Ofsted-to-mark-down-schools-if-wearing-the-veil-hinders-learning.html [accessed 27th January 2016]
This news story outlines some very important facts about how the education system is becoming more ‘stricter’ about the ratings they give schools but also how the whole story spread around. For example, David Cameron announcing it from the beginning and how it has only been as recent as this week that the Ofsted chief has confirmed this across the board. However, the facts also clearly state that there are some positives within this new policy but some very justifiable cons alongside it too; these are all backed up with vox pops and statistics within the story.
This is definitely a story that should be and is made newsworthy because it shows how one extra policy in an organisation can affect many schools all across the UK. These are supported with evidence from both sides of the argument- Such as Mr Wilshaw suggesting how a face veil can actually affect the overall performance of a school- and he’s correct to a degree because I can understand how teachers wearing a face veil can affect quality communication and the ability to understand some information as a result. But on the flip side, Dr Howjat Ramzy is 100% correct to me because There is no evidence carried out before or recently that any student wearing a face veil affects a school’s performance in any way. It also links the entire news story to discrimination and radicalisation due to the fact that this is being made into an issue which is almost nothing compared to what other issues are going on related to education and even other Islamic beliefs. For example, there is a steady rise on Islamophobia across the country, which may even may some reader suspicious as to why something as harmless as a face veil could bring down a school’s reputation…