Confusion over St Stephen’s Primary School hijab ban reversal

There is confusion over whether St Stephen’s Primary School in Newham has reversed its hijab ban or not.

Earlier on Monday the school – which had banned the hijab for children under 8 and also discourages fasting in Ramadan – posted a statement on its website reversing the ban after angry parents raised their objections.

The statement said: “The decision that was reported in The Sunday Times was initially based on the health, safety and welfare of our youngest children. Having spoken to our School community we now have a deeper understanding of this matter and have decided to reverse our policy with immediate effect. We have always and will always work with our community in the best interests of our children.”

But the statement was later updated to a much more ambiguous one which read: “The school’s uniform policy is based on the health, safety and welfare of our children. The school has taken the decision to make changes to this policy with immediate effect and this follows on from conversations with our school community. We will work with our school community to continue to review this policy going forward in the best interests of our children.”

However, it has been confirmed that the Chair of Governors at St Stephen’s School, Arif Qawi, has resigned.

Qawi, who had spoken of his “personal crusade” to “limit Islamisation,” sent a letter of resignation earlier today stating that he was “truly sorry” that his actions had “caused any harm to the reputation” of the school.

Outside the school gates on Friday afternoon Muslim parents had vented their anger.

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    One said: “I think we have to look at the reasons that have been given for the ban, which is to say the children from this school are not integrating with British values. So firstly, who defines these British values? Wearing a hijab – are we saying that is contradictory to British values? Because British values are quite clear, which is to say there is the Equality Act and everyone is allowed to practice their free faith in this country.”


    Another said: “Being a British Muslim myself, who lives by British values and my religious and cultural values in the generation we’re living in, is she (the school’s headteacher Neena Lall) going to set this trend across the country?”

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