Ofsted Caught Up In Unfair Racism Row With Muslim Schools

Ofsted Caught Up In Unfair Racism Row With Muslim Schools

By Gavin Mackintosh-

Ofsted’s has been caught up in a racist row with Muslim primary schools following its recommendation for inspectors to question its primary school girls about wearing the hijab.

The education inspectorate have been unfairly accused of racism by teachers and faith leaders upset that theirMuslim practices are being questioned. In fact, what is being questioned is the decision of Muslim parents to have their young primary female children wear the hijab in schools.

Over 1,000 teachers, academics, and faith leaders have condemned as “kneejerk, discriminatory and institutionally racist” by more than 1,000 teachers, academics and faith leaders. However, the eye of media.com believe that condemnation is wrong on the basis of what we know so far.

Ofsted announced this month that the policy was designed to tackle situations in which wearing a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation” of girls as young as four or five, when most Islamic teaching requires headdress for girls only at the onset of puberty. The concern raised by Ofsted is legitimate and needs to be addressed by these faith leaders and complaining academics. Ofsted are responsible for overseeing the afafirs of schools, and any issues they raise should be addressed properly.

Ofsted has been criticized for presiding over a “dangerous” decision that risked “reinforcing an anti-Muslim political culture in which Islamophobia or anti-Muslim racism has been institutionalized in schools and across the public sector”. However, the purpose of Ofsted’s questioning is not to promote anti-Muslim sentiments.

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted and chief inspector of schools, said the move was to tackle situations in which wearing a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualization” of girls as young as four or five, when most Islamic teaching requires headdress for girls only at the onset of puberty.Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted and chief inspector of schools, said the move was to tackle situations in which wearing a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation” of girls as young as four or five, when most Islamic teaching requires headdress for girls only at the onset of puberty.

MEETING

The announcement follows a meeting last week between Spielman and campaigners against the hijab in schools, including Amina Lone, co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation. It was all ignited by the Trojan horse report in which it was alleged that a secret plot for some extreme Muslims to radicalize schools. Spieldlman said:

“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.“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,” Spielman said.
“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.

RESPECT

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted and chief inspector of schools, said she respected parents’ choice to bring up their children according to their cultural norms, but wanted to tackle situations “where primary school children are expected to wear the hijab [that] could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”.

The announcement followed a meeting this month between Spielman and campaigners against the hijab in schools, including Amina Lone, a co-director of the Social Action and Research Foundation.

The letter, written by Nadine El-Enany, a senior law lecturer at Birkbeck Law School, University of London, Waqas Tufail, a senior lecturer in criminology at Leeds Beckett University, and Shereen Fernandez, a PhD candidate at Queen Mary University of London, said: “We, the undersigned, ask that Ofsted immediately retract its instruction to inspectors to question primary school children wearing the hijab.

UNACCEPTABLE

“We find the decision to single out Muslim children for questioning unacceptable, and insist that no school children be targeted for action on the basis of their race, religion or background.

“While a wider conversation about the sexualisation of girls in Britain’s culture and economy is welcome, the singling out of Muslim children for investigation is unacceptable.

“The message the Ofsted decision sends to Muslim women is that the way they choose to dress and the decisions they make in raising their children are subject to a level of scrutiny different to that applied to non-Muslim parents.

“Further, the Ofsted decision reduces the hijab to a symbol of sexualisation and ignores other interpretations ranging from a display of faith to a symbol of empowerment and resistance. Constructing women and children who wear the hijab as being either sexualised or repressed is both reductive and racist in its reproduction of colonial and Orientalist tropes about them.”

INTERPRETATIONS

Other interpretations like a display of faith or symbol of resistance may truly exist, but because the children are really young, there is also an argument for saying they are being sexualized at too young an age. At 4 or5 years old, children generally don’t have enough faith in their religion to want to wear hijabs- Ofsted want kids to be left as kids. Any charges of racism will need to be proven by presenting the media and the public with the specific questions that were asked that can be interpreted to be racist.