The UK's chief inspector of schools is offering his support to school and college leaders who decide to take a stand against the "inappropriate wearing of the veil".
Sir Michael Wilshaw has instructed his inspectors to "mark down" institutions where the "wearing of the veil is acting as a barrier to learning and to positive social interaction”.
His common sense intervention follows comments by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, and the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, last week, when they expressed their mutual support for the rights of public organizations to implement “sensible rules” on the issues of face coverings.
In the statement from Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), published on Tuesday, Wilshaw said: “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.”
A Department for Education spokesman told the BBC: “We fully support" the message from Sir Michael that head teachers who "restrict the wearing of the veil to support effective teaching and learning will receive Ofsted’s backing”.
“It is also clearly right that if the wearing of the veil is interfering with education in schools that should trigger action from Ofsted.”
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