Ofsted inspectors will mark down schools as “inadequate” if they judge the wearing of a full face veil by pupils or staff is hindering learning, Sir Michael Wilshaw said today.
The chief inspector 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.
“We need to be confident our children’s education and future prospects are not being harmed in any way.”
His remarks come after comments by David Cameron, the prime minister, and Nicky Morgan, education secretary, last week, when they said individual public organisations should be free to put in place sensible rules on the issue of face coverings.