The Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, East London, requires all pupils to wear a black burka and a long a black coat outside the school. It also tells girls to wear headscarves during lessons and says its strict uniform policy is the “desired dress code of a Muslim female”.
The 300-pupil school, which caters for the large Bengali population in London’s East End, had planned to become a voluntary-aided school largely funded by taxpayers. The school, which did not respond to requests for comment, says on its website that its uniform rule “conforms to the Islamic Code of dressing and must be adhered to at all times”.
Ofsted inspected the school three times between 2008 and 2010 after concerns about some aspects of teaching but did not mention its uniform code.
The Ayesha Siddiqa Girls School, in Southall, West london, also requires pupils to wear a navy blue burka or jilbab, a long flowing garment that does not cover the face, when travelling to and from lessons. The school’s website says it is “not willing to compromise on any issues regarding uniform”.
The 120-pupil school based in an Islamic centre, was the subject of an emergency inspection by Ofsted earlier this year which raised concerns about the girls’ “welfare, health and safety”.
Other private Islamic schools across the country are believed to enforce similar dress codes.
…Speaking about Islamic dress code in schools, Keith Porteous Wood, the executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “It is wrong for any child to be required to cover their face. To make it a requirement of the school uniform rules means the pupils have no individual choice.”
Almost all Muslim schools, including the dozen state-funded schools, require all girls to cover their hair with hijabs or scarves and many require pupils to wear traditional jilbab gowns during lessons.
Mr Porteous Wood said: “We have concerns about the enforced wearing of headscarves but banning them would be a step too far in restricting religious freedoms.”
More at: Muslim school forces girls of 11 to wear burkas (subscription required)
We’ve had a lot of articles recently amount the enforcement of individual school uniform codes and hair style restrictions – is this one fundamentally any different or do you believe forcing pupils to cover their faces is a step too far? Please let us know in the comments or on twitter…