Head of Ofsted has said Inspectors on school visit will now be asking Muslim girls why the choose to wear the Islamic headscarf
Amanda Spielman, the watchdog’s chief inspector, said obligatory headscarf is seen as sexualising young school girls, with the hijab and other coverings worn as a symbol of modesty.
The move was announced after a meeting with Social Action and Research Foundation on Friday.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has shown deep concern and said questioning young girls on why they are wearing a headscarf is wrong
There are 142 Islamic schools of which 27 are primary schools.
According to the National Secular Society 42% of the Islamic schools have a compulsory head-covering uniform policy.
Ms Spielman said: “While respecting parents’ choice to bring up their children according to their cultural norms, creating an environment where primary school children are expected to wear the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls.”
“In seeking to address these concerns, and in line with our current practice in terms of assessing whether the school promotes equality for their children, inspectors will talk to girls who wear such garments to ascertain why they do so in the school.”
“We would urge any parent or member of the public who has a concern about fundamentalist groups influencing school policy, or breaching equality law to make a complaint to the school. If schools do not act on these complaints they can be made to Ofsted directly.”
But MCB Secretary General Harun Khan said: “It is deeply worrying that Ofsted has announced it will be specifically targeting and quizzing young Muslim girls who choose to wear the headscarf.
“It sends a clear message to all British women who adopt this that they are second-class citizens that while they are free to wear the headscarf, the establishment would prefer that they do not.”
“The many British Muslims who choose to wear the headscarf have done extremely well in education and are breaking glass ceilings.”
“It is disappointing that this is becoming policy without even engaging with a diverse set of mainstream Muslim voices on the topic.”
Mr Khan said the approach risked being “counter-productive” to Ofsted’s pledge to uphold what Ms Spielman called British values and urged her to reverse the decision.