Veil ban in schools will be divisive, say teachers

Letter in today’s Guardian:

You reported that following new guidance from the education secretary, Alan Johnson, headteachers are to be given the right to ban Muslim girls from wearing the niqab or veil in schools (Report, March 20). Various reasons are put forward as a justification for this, including security.

The claim that the tiny number of girls who wear the niqab are a security risk would be laughable if it did not demonise a vulnerable group of students. It should be remembered that similar claims from Jack Straw last year led to physical attacks on women wearing the veil.

In France where the hijab or headscarf has been banned in some schools, the result has been division and conflict. As teachers we are committed to building inclusive, multicultural and tolerant school communities. At a time of increased Islamophobia, talking about bans on the very few young women who wear the veil can only help to sow discord in our schools.

Kevin Courtney
Executive member, National Union of Teachers
Alex Kenny, Ray Sirotkin, Sara Tomlinson, Gordon White, Sally Kincaid, Nick Grant, Barry Conway, Ken Muller