Written Answers - School Uniforms.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 661 No. 1

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 1680. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Batt O'Keeffe Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  when he will publish the report on the wearing the hijab in classrooms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29951/08]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Deputy Conor Lenihan): Information on Conor Lenihan Zoom on Conor Lenihan I jointly issued a press statement on this topic with the Minister for Education and Science, Batt O’Keeffe, T.D. yesterday. We have agreed recommendations on school uniform policy. These recommendations are based on extensive consultations I made this summer. The report containing the recommendations will be published on the Department of Education and Science website in the near future.The agreed recommendations are as follows:

1. The current system, whereby schools decide their uniform policy at a local level, is reasonable, works and should be maintained.

2. In this context, no school uniform policy should act in such a way that it, in effect, excludes students of a particular religious background from seeking enrolment or continuing their enrolment in a school. However, this statement does not recommend the wearing of clothing in the classroom which obscures a facial view and creates an artificial barrier between pupil and teacher. Such clothing hinders proper communication.

3. Schools, when drawing up uniform policy, should consult widely within the school community.

4. Schools should take note of the obligations placed on them by the Equal Status Acts before setting down a school uniform policy. They should also be mindful of the Education Act, 1998. As previously mentioned, this obliges boards of management to take account of “the principles and requirements of a democratic society and have respect and promote respect for the diversity of values, beliefs, traditions, languages and ways of life in society”.

These recommendations will be formally conveyed to schools shortly.

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