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Friday, 5 October 2007
Guidelines on veil in schools.
This is from the Daily Mail.
The guidelines given to headteachers on school uniform and religious dress do not ban the veil outright, but give schools the right and power to set their uniform themselves. So a head teacher can ban the veil in his or her school for various reasons as and when the situation were to arise.
This is very similar to the ruling made regarding the wearing of the veil in court. The power is in the hands of the individual judge or head with each case judged on its merits. Until and unless we get a national ban on the covering of the face in public I think it is correct that the rights of schools to enforce their requirements locally be bolstered. Which is what this guide does in my opinion. The Mail headline, (well it is the Mail after all) suggests that the rights are with the pupil. I see it as the authority being given to the school.
Veils will not be banned in schools, ministers have decided.
Guidelines issued by the Government yesterday state that heads 'may be justified' in outlawing religious dress that covers pupils' faces.
But ministers stopped short of issuing an outright ban on full-face Islamic veils, saying it was up to schools to decide uniform policy for themselves.
The guidance led to accusations that the Government had only confused the issue and left heads 'walking a tightrope'.
Yesterday's updated guidance follows the case of a 12-year-old girl whose campaign to be allowed to wear the niqab at her Buckinghamshire school was rejected by the Law Lords after a lengthy appeal process.
Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the guidance was a 'brave' attempt to assist schools on a sensitive issue.
But he added: "Walking this tightrope is pretty difficult. There is always concern schools will face legal challenges.  We will want to see how this advice pans out on the ground.  If bits turn out to be too tight or too loose, we will want it adjusted."
A Government spokesman said: "No guidance can stop legal challenges from happening.  "We can give advice to prevent schools ending up in court in the first place and also to minimise the risk that if a case does come to court, schools would not end up losing."
He said the message from recent court cases was that schools were justified in barring religious dress if they had consulted parents and the community widely beforehand and had valid reasons.
Posted on 10/05/2007 2:30 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
5 Oct 2007
Send an emailMary Jackson

Overall this is a sensible compromise. I think it would cover the two cases that came to court (Shabina Begum and the later, Niqabette). Whether an outright ban on religious dress is justified would depend on the strictness of the school's uniform policy - something that can't be decided by national guidelines.

I would hate to see a situation like the French one where, in order to deal with the hijab, they also ban skullcaps and turbans.