Chief Ofsted Inspector Amanda Spielman is no stranger to criticism. Last year, Ofsted came under fire for advising their school inspectors to question Muslim elementary school girls wearing hijabs. Spielman said the move was to tackle the sexualisation of children as most Islamic teaching requires the headdress for girls only at the onset of puberty. Parents called her racist and accused her of “reinforcing islamophobia.”
Now, the senior Ofsted official has said that religious extremists are using schools to “indoctrinate impressionable minds” and “pervert education”. Spielman pointed out that Ofsted inspectors are increasingly coming into contact with such extremists.
She said headteachers need to confront those who foster extremist behaviours.
“Rather than adopting a passive liberalism that says anything goes, for fear of causing offence, schools leaders should be promoting a muscular liberalism,”
Spielman has said at a conference held by the Church of England in London.
“That sort of liberalism holds no truck for ideologies that seek to close minds or narrow opportunity. Occasionally that will mean taking uncomfortable decisions or having tough conversations.”
She went on to say:
“Under the pretext of religious belief, they use education institutions, legal and illegal, to narrow young people’s horizons, to isolate and segregate, and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology. Freedom of belief in the private sphere is paramount, but in our schools it is our responsibility to tackle those who actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law.”
Spielman has thrown her support behind a primary school headteacher who wants to ban the hijab for under eights.
“School leaders must have the right to set school uniform policies in a way that they see fit, in order to promote cohesion,” she said. “It is a matter of deep regret that this outstanding school has been subject to a campaign of abuse by some elements within the community.”
“I want to be absolutely clear, Ofsted will always back heads who take tough decisions in the interests of their pupils.”
Speilman has my support.
Killstream Special tomorrow at 7:30 pm EST to celebrate TheRalph’s return! Not suitable for the faint-hearted.