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.
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.
A draft version of the new rules published in March suggested that schools would be allowed to outlaw certain religious dress in order to ensure proper learning, prevent bullying and maintain security on school grounds. But an extra paragraph inserted in the revised version makes it clear there is no automatic right to ban veils. It states that the judgment against the 12-year-old girl and two other similar cases do not imply schools can impose a blanket ban.
Tory MP Paul Goodman, whose Wycombe constituency includes the school challenged in court over its policy on the niqab, said the guidance had been weakened by the Human Rights Act, which provides for “the right to education and to manifest religious beliefs”.