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Christine Braddock to leave Birmingham Metropolitan College – but ‘nothing to do’ with Muslim veil row

Christine Braddock to leave Birmingham Metropolitan College – but ‘nothing to do’ with Muslim veil row

🕔23.Sep 2013

The principal of the Birmingham college at the centre of a row over a short-lived but highly controversial ban on Muslim veils is to retire.

Staff at Birmingham Metropolitan College were told last Friday that Dame Christine Braddock will be leaving, although it is being stressed that her departure is not connected with the veil row

The college performed a dramatic u-turn and dropped the ban shortly before a threatened mass demonstration by hundreds of students outside the Matthew Boulton city centre campus.

Almost 9,000 people signed a petition urging the college to allow Muslim students to weir veils and the protest was backed by Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood and city councillor Waseem Zaffar.

The attempted ban on veils was part of a strengthening of security at the college.

It was proposed to stop students from wearing any kind of face covering including the niqab, for security reasons, along with hoodies and caps.

But the ban infuriated Muslim leaders and prompted a national debate about the veil.

A college spokeswoman confirmed that Dame Braddock will stand down as soon as a successor can be found. She is approaching 60 and had always planned to retire at this stage, the spokeswoman added.

It’s expected that the recruitment process for a new principal will take at least six months.

During her ten years as principal, Dame Braddock has been credited with turning the college around.

She oversaw major change, including restructuring and relocating into a £40 million new building in Birmingham city centre.

Cllr Zaffar paid tribute to Dame Braddock’s achievements.

He said: “Birmingham has been lucky to have such a well-respected leader in the education sector.

“She has made a very valuable contribution to the development of young people in the city.

“I didn’t agree with her over the veil issue but I am glad that commonsense prevailed and I am glad that she made a u-turn, which couldn’t have been an easy decision. It takes courage to admit that you have made a mistake.”

In a statement explaining the change of course over the veil issue, the college said: “We are concerned that recent media attention is detracting from our core mission of providing high quality learning. As a consequence, we will modify our policies to allow individuals to wear specific items of personal clothing to reflect their cultural values.

“The college will still need to be able to confirm an individual’s identity in order to maintain safeguarding and security.

“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.”

Dame Braddock’s impeding departure coincides with the college’s appointment of a new chairman.

Former KPMG executive Steve Hollis takes over from Vij Randeniya, following the completion of his three year term of office.

A statement issued by the college said: “As part of the planned change management programme at the college one of Mr Hollis’s early tasks will be to work with the college’s Board and Dame Braddock to recruit her replacement when she stands down as Principal, at the end of this academic year.

Mr Hollis said: “The board has had a phased approach to succession planning, with my own appointment phase one is complete and now we will begin the search for a successor to Christine. She will continue in her role until the end of the academic year, to enable her to support her successor so a smooth, orderly transition can take place.”

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