The Association of Muslim Schools UK (AMS UK) strongly disagrees with Ofsted’s plans to downgrade schools if inspectors suspect the wearing of face veils has interfered with learning.
Contrary to comments made by Sir Michael Wilshaw, there is no research to suggest the face veil or any form of religious clothing has an impact on delivering education, a sentiment shared by Andrew Clapham of Nottingham Trent University who says, “Ofsted’s threat to penalise institutions where the Muslim veil is worn has no basis in research.”
AMS UK also echoes the view of Leora Cruddas of ASCL that “inspectors should focus on what schools achieve rather than what people wear” and such actions by inspectors could lead to discrimination and hatred, increased Islamophobia and intolerance of other forms of Islamic dress by association. As Kevin Courtney of the National Union of Teachers has commented, “Rather than assisting school leaders this will have the effect of alienating many staff and pupils.”
A spokesperson from AMS UK said, “Having people wearing clothing which is different, such as a niqab, vestments, kasaya, sari, turban or kippah, is something to be celebrated not suppressed. It is a chance to show acceptance and to set an example to our children – that people of all backgrounds and religious preferences are welcome anywhere in this country and that they are equal citizens with equal worth, stake and value in Britain. We should use diversity to bring us closer together to work for the common good, not drive us apart.”
AMS UK urges Ofsted to reconsider their approach on face veils and would welcome a meeting with Sir Micheal Wilshaw to discuss this issue.