Very sad that Amanda Spielman is bringing her respectable HMCI office in disrepute by playing ‘hijab’ politics and backing headteachers who may wish to ban the hijab.
Ahead of his union’s conference in Brighton, National Education Union leader Kevin Courtney has said that Ms Spielman overstepped her remit in February when she backed an east London head who tried to stop pupils wearing the Muslim head-scarf.
In supporting the head involved in a row with Muslim community leaders over the hijab, Ms Spielman said “Ofsted will always back heads who take tough decisions in the interests of their pupils”.
The Ofsted brief is to impartially inspect the school as it is, how it works and not to take sides with any row in the school. Moreover, heads have their local authority, trusts or their unions to support them if needed.
Ms Spielman also said her inspectors would speak to pupils wearing the scarf to find out why they were doing so in school, adding that wearing it could be interpreted as ”sexualisation of young girls.” (parents seeing their young girls wearing skirt, long hair and head band or being girly is ok with Ms Spielman as a girl is mostly very feminine because of her observations, even at very young age, it doesn’t make her weak or stupid or ditzy, it just means she likes pretty things, why wearing hijab should matter!!)
A motion to be heard at the NEU conference says that Ms Spielman went beyond ”the remit of Ofsted” and that members should robustly challenge it.
It says: ”These [the HMCI’s] statements could have ramifications beyond the school gates and must be seen in the context of increasing attacks on the Muslim community.”
Mr Courtney, who fears that schools might introduce Hijab bans because of being frightened of Ofsted, said heads should not ban the hijab without consulting the local community.
Mr Coutney said: ”We don’t think it makes any sense for there to be a ban on the wearing of the hijab.
“I think it is a problem that Amanda Spielman, her majesty’s chief inspector, speaks out on this in a way which I think is frankly very political”.
He said that when she talked about using “muscular liberalism” to confront these sorts of issues she was making the issue political.
What is very concerning is that Ms Spielman seems to be fully aware of what has been happening to legitimise Islamophobia in many ways; for example, the chain of events from the bogus Muslim-specific ‘Trojan Horse conspiracy’ to the Theresa May’s discredited Prevent duty to Casey review, politicisation of ‘extremism’, her outburst about ‘hijab’ and of course the government’s strategic recognition and appointments of some Muslim named persons (buffers!) who collude with policies and practices which hit Muslim hardest.
It must be quite worrying for the Ofsted that its head has been mixed up with the politics of Islamophobia which has been robustly challenged by the wider community, including the school children , parents and teachers.