STOP THE ISLAMOPHOBIA

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Responding to the statement

First of all, thank you all so much for adding your voice to the petition and supporting the student! There are so many of you! I'm sure you are all aware of the attention that this story got over the past few days. (Note: this update is going to be quite a long read, as I have copied out their statement for those of you interested in reading it.) Regarding the student: unfortunately, she has not returned to study at the school because the school has decided to keep their decision. Instead they have released this statement: "Camden School for Girls has an appearance policy, agreed by the Governing Body and set out in the school prospectus. It states the following: ‘Students at the school may wear what they wish subject to any requirements that might be reasonably made by the school in individual cases in the interests of teaching and learning (including physical education), health and safety. Inappropriate dress which offends public decency or which does not allow teacher student interactions will be challenged.’ The school will not discuss individual pupils. This policy was adopted several years ago after lengthy consultation and discussion within the school and the governing body. It was written at a time when a girl wished to wear a niqab, and teachers found that this made teaching difficult. The school and its governors wrote the policy above to clarify the school’s position. The policy is very similar to appearance policies in other Camden schools, and to many schools in London and the UK generally. The governors’ decision was very much an educational one. Interactions between students and teachers take place in a number of ways, but one of the most important is through reading facial expression. Teachers use a technique called ‘scanning’, in which they look at all students’ faces to see if they are understanding the lesson, if they are engaged, concentrating and fully involved in what is going on. Teachers will pick up on many facial cues in order to ‘personalise’ learning, and to make sure that every student has the help and support they need to make progress. For these reasons, teachers need to see a student’s whole face in order to read the visual cues it provides. In addition, it is important for the safety and security of the school community to know who is on site, and to be able to see and identify individuals. Errors in media and social media coverage The following facts address some of the many errors in the current media, and social media, coverage: The school’s Appearance Policy is identical to policies in other Camden LA schools No student wore any face covering during any 2014 public examinations, or those in previous years. No student has ever gone through the main school wearing any face covering No student has ever been denied a place in the school because of any aspect of their dress The school places no restrictions on the wearing of the hijab, a veil which covers the head and chest, but not the face, and has never done so The school held lengthy discussions with this student and her mother about this issue, and they accepted, and agreed to abide by the school’s Appearance Policy, recognising that these are the school’s rules." Response: 1. "No student wore any face covering during any 2014 public examinations..." This is false. The student did in fact wear the niqab during her GCSE exams after asking the Head of Exams whether it was ok. They agreed and the student sat her exams this year wearing the niqab. 2. "No student has ever been denied a place in the school because of any aspect of their dress." Well it's clear that they have done so in this case. They haven't allowed a student to study because of her choice to wear a niqab. 3. "The school held lengthy discussions with this student and her mother about this issue, and they accepted..." 'Lengthy discussion'? There was one meeting. And in that one meeting, the student did agree to take the niqab off, but later changed her mind. People are allowed to change their minds, right? 4. "Teachers will pick up on many facial cues in order to ‘personalise’ learning, and to make sure that every student has the help and support they need to make progress..." I'd like to share a comment on the petition that responds to this (I hope you don't mind, Lisa!): "I am also a teacher, and many of my classes have students wearing a niqab. I am unclear what barrier this offers to the teaching process. Just as I tailor my teaching to individuals within a class based on their needs, I tailor my teaching to women wearing a niqab. I may not be able to ‘see’ a full screwed-up face when they are confused, but I can see screwed-up eyes. I can also ask different questions to test understanding and I find that those questions benefit all students. In short, my teaching practice is improved by working with students who offer barriers: I must become a better teacher to overcome those and every student benefits." I couldn't have put it better myself. 5. "It is important for the safety and security of the school community to know who is on site, and to be able to see and identify individuals..." The student has been attending the school for five years. I can't stress this enough. Many teachers know her. They will know her voice. It would be understandable if it was regarding a completely new student, but this student is not new to the school. There is also a new biometric entry system installed, which makes security not much of an issue. Again, it wouldn't be a problem if the student showed her face to a female member of staff. There still has not been any attempt at a compromise. That's it for now, because I'm very aware that this is going to be a long read. Thank you so much again for adding your voice! “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world... would do this, it would change the earth.” -- William Faulkner

Anon Ymous
8 years ago