Muslim teacher suspended for refusing to take off veil

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The Independent Online

A Muslim teaching assistant has been suspended after she refused to take off her veil while in class, a council spokesman confirmed yesterday.

Aishah Azmi, 24, was told she could wear the veil in corridors and the staff room at Headfield Church of England junior school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, but must remove it when teaching.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: "I can confirm she has been suspended. The matter has gone before an employment tribunal and we are waiting for the result. It would be inappropriate to comment further."

It is understood Miss Azmi worked as a bilingual support worker at the school, where face-to-face communication was deemed essential.

The council spokesman said Miss Azmi would remain suspended until the result of the employment tribunal was known.

Headfield Church of England junior school has 546 pupils aged seven to 11. An Ofsted report carried out in February 2006 said: "Most of the children are of Pakistani or Indian heritage, and a few are from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, including white British. The first languages spoken by most children are Panjabi, Gujarati and Urdu, and many children are still learning to speak English.

"Significant improvement is required in relation to the inadequate standards of achievement reached by children and their slow progress over time."