Birmingham Metropolitan College decides on U-turn over veil ban

A college which told pupils to remove facial coverings, including religious veils, for security reasons, has now changed its policy.

Birmingham Metropolitan College originally said hoodies, hats, caps and veils must be removed so students were easily identifiable.

The move was backed by David Cameron.

But now it has decided to modify its stance to allow individuals to wear "specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values".

In a statement it said it would "modify" the policy as "we are concerned that recent media attention is detracting from our core mission of providing high quality learning".

A spokesman for Mr Cameron had earlier said the Prime Minister believed schools should be able to set their own uniform policies.

"The point I would make on this is that we back schools being able to set and enforce their own school uniform policies," he said.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was "uneasy" about a ban.

He said the bar had to be set "very high" to justify any ban on wearing a veil.

'Rather exceptional circumstances'

Appearing on his LBC radio phone-in show, Mr Clegg said: "I can totally understand, of course, if you're passing through security checks at airports, say, of course for those reasons you need to make sure that the security staff can do their job.

"I can totally understand in the classroom, this is more about full veils, that you want to be able to make contact, certainly eye contact and face contact with your pupils.

"But as a general principle, other than those rather exceptional circumstances, I'm really quite uneasy about anyone being told what they have to wear and I certainly would need to understand why.

"I think I've set the bar very high to justify something like that because one of the things that is great about our country is that we are diverse, we are tolerant."

The college said: "We have listened to the views of our students and we are confident that this modification to our policies will meet the needs of all of our learners and stakeholders.

"We remain committed to ensuring that students are provided with a safe and welcoming environment and the best education and training opportunities available."

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