Religion and schools

2019 debate on hijabs in schools

Published on: Mon, 21/10/2019 - 18:04

David Pendletone, Daniel Randall, various

Photo: CC BY 2.0 DFID

In the AWL in the run up to our 2019 conference, we are having a debate on the hijab in schools, after one member brought a motion on it. Please see the editorial note below, and below that, the articles that have been written in Solidarity to date on this. We have internal discussion documents on it, but most of the debate we have had publicly. Third on this page is the policy we passed in 2004, and fourth is some articles from the debate at the time.

Editorial note

Our existing policy decided in relation to the French ban on the hijab/veil in schools is printed at the

Criticise religion, no to state bans

Published on: Mon, 23/09/2019 - 11:29

Daniel Randall, David Pendletone

See other articles in this debate here

The analysis of hijab, Islamic religious clothing based on codes of female modesty, which David Pendletone asserts in his article in Solidarity 517 is commonplace amongst many Muslim-background feminists, amongst whom the issue of state bans is highly contested.

Iranian writer Chadhortt Djavan, who does support state bans on hijab for young girls, wrote in her pamphlet ‘Bas les Voiles’ (Down with Veils): “What does veiling do to a girl child? It turns her into a sexual object [...] it defines her essentially by and for men’s eyes.” Algerian socialist

Banning hijab in schools

Published on: Wed, 18/09/2019 - 10:17

David Pendletone

See other articles in this debate here

I will be moving a motion for a ban on the hijab in schools up to Key Stage 3 at the Workers’ Liberty conference in December. I want to explain why.

The hijab isn’t just a piece of clothing, or even just a piece of religious clothing. It has strong political connotations with religious conservatism. It is closely associated with the notion of modesty, a sexist modesty which means women have to cover up to avoid arousing men. Martin Thomas correctly wrote in 2003, during a previous discussion within Workers’ Liberty:

“Whatever it is in an individual’s mind

Tories run scared on LGBT+ education

Published on: Wed, 10/04/2019 - 10:36

David Pendletone

On 1 April, the BBC news website reported that 85 Head teachers from Birmingham had met with officials from the Department of Education.

The meeting followed protests by parents in Birmingham about the implementation of the new curriculum in Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) for primary schools. The new curriculum teaches children that there are different kinds of families, including families where the adults are in lesbian or gay relationships.

The BBC quoted an anonymous Head who said: "We feel completely alone here and feel as if we're getting no overt support whatsoever from the

Speaking out on LGBT+ inclusive education

Published on: Tue, 09/04/2019 - 17:30

Khakan Qureshi spoke to Gemma Short and Kate Harris about protests against No Outsiders and LGBT+ inclusive education in Birmingham.

My name is Khakan Qureshi, I’ve worked in social care for the last 20 years across the spectrum of vulnerable adults, and I currently work with the homeless. I founded the first LGBT+ south Asian support group in Birmingham which is now five years old. I became involved in the situation at Parkfield and Anderton Park schools by tweeting my responses and thoughts on the protests, the BBC invited me onto the Big Questions show to discuss the issue. Andrew Moffat

Schools should teach LGBT rights

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 11:43

Simon Nelson

In protests by some parents at the Parkfield Community School in Birmingham against the “No Outsiders” project, a number of parents say their religious freedom is threatened by the commitment of the Assistant Headteacher to teach LGBT rights.

The 400 parents, predominantly Muslims, who have signed the petition say that “No Outsiders” goes beyond the idea of treating LGBT people with respect and is not appropriate for young children. Andrew Moffat, the teacher in question, has long been an advocate of LGBT education in schools. He has written a book, Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools.

TV fictions and AWL reality

Published on: Wed, 14/03/2018 - 13:03

Sean Matgamna

An open letter to Ashok Kumar

It’s been said before, and it will bear saying again. If everything published by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in the last five decades were to disappear, and if future historians of socialism had to rely on what our political opponents said about us, then the historians would find it impossible to make political sense of the story.

On the one hand we are people who do, and have always done, everything we can to help workers in their struggle against employers and governments. We throw everything we have into that.

We preach working-class revolutionary

Letter: Young girls and the hijab

Published on: Wed, 07/02/2018 - 14:47

Mark Sandell

I am writing in support of the original policy of St Stephen’s School in Newham to stop girls under eight wearing the hijab at school. (The school reversed the policy after a petition campaign). The head, Neena Lall, has received death threats.

Muslim organisations and local councillors have protested, and the chair of the Board of Governors who supported her was been forced to resign. I suspect most of the British left are on the wrong side in this argument. Desperate to prove themselves politically correct, they are abandoning young girls to reactionary restrictions. Yet, in an article in

Ofsted criticises “sexist and sectarian” faith schools

Published on: Wed, 27/12/2017 - 15:19

Gerry Bates

“Will Ofsted start policing thought crime in schools?! wailed a headline in the Catholic Herald on 13 December. The magazine was responding to an Ofsted report that shed some light on faith schools.

The report found that “there are schools spreading beliefs…that clash with British values or equalities law’”. That “in a handful of schools inspectors found instances of sexist and sectarian literature”. And that ‘in even more extreme cases, children are being educated illegally in unregistered settings.” Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, later commented that current powers were

How to think beyond and survive the exam season

Published on: Wed, 03/05/2017 - 08:29

Daisy Thomas

A report on 2 May from the Health and Education Committee of MPs found that government cuts are pushing many schools to scrap or limit mental health help in schools. Daisy Thomas explains why that help is important.

There has been more recognition of the importance of mental health in the media lately. From the Facebook Live video of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to the hugely successful 2017 London Marathon, the aim — to encourage more people to have conversations about mental health, as well as changing the way that these conversations can be had — is good.


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