Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has warned schools must do more to ensure their uniforms respect the needs of Britain’s diverse religious and cultural communities. The senior Conservative politician says schools should adapt their uniforms to prevent discrimination of pupils from minority races and faiths and avoid breaching equality laws. Her warning comes in the the […]
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has warned schools must do more to ensure their uniforms respect the needs of Britain’s diverse religious and cultural communities.
The senior Conservative politician says schools should adapt their uniforms to prevent discrimination of pupils from minority races and faiths and avoid breaching equality laws. Her warning comes in the the wake of a religious row which erupted when two schoolgirls were ordered to remove their turbans on the first day of school.
As previously reported St Anne’s Catholic School headteacher Lyn Bourne apologized to the families of Prasimran Kaur, 11, and Simranjot Kaur, 13, when staff told them take off the religious headwear on the first day of term. Both Southampton girls have returned to classes at the Carlton Road school after being granted permission to wear their turbans which their families claim teachers had branded “fashion” items. Representatives from the Sikh Federation UK wrote to the Department of Education following the incident calling for “tough action” to prevent future flashpoints. In a written reply seen by the Echo, Ms Morgan, pictured below, said the girls’ case was a “wholly regrettable incident”.
Referring to the Equality Act 2010 which confirms that schools must be “sensitive” to the needs of different cultures, races, and religions and “act reasonably” in accommodating their needs, she wrote: “Schools are prohibited from discrimination on grounds of race, sex or any other protected characteristic. “This applies to schools’ uniform and other policies as well as to their interactions with pupils and parents.”
But pointing out that Miss Bourne has apologised for the teacher’s actions she said: “Regarding any further action, the department expects schools to take responsibility for and putting in place processes to handle complaints from parents or others, as well for setting, reviewing and if necessary adapting their policies to ensure compliance with the law.
“It is therefore, open to the parents or the Sikh Federation itself to engage directly with the school on this matter, should they or you want to assure yourselves that lessons have been learned , or indeed, to offer advice to the school on this or other aspects of Sikh practice and culture.”
Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation UK, said: “Governing body at St Anne’s Catholic School and Southampton City Council need to step in to ensure school policies on race and religious discrimination are properly enforced.”
Harmeet Singh Brar, general secretary of the Sikh Council Hampshire said he is working with other faith groups to draw up a list of guidelines for use by Southampton schools.
He said: “I am glad that the Education secretary has got involved. Our guidance will help ensure this doesn’t happen again to anyone of any faith or religion.”
~ Source: Sikh Federation UK