On Sunday 19th November, OFSTED head, Amanda Spielman announced that OFSTED will question Muslim hijab-wearing school girls.
This is following an open letter by Amina Lone and others alleging that hijab “sexualises” girls.
This new policy will undoubtedly make Muslim children feel targeted, make parents and Islamic schools feel under suspicion, and further alienate and demonise Muslim communities.
1) Write to Ofsted, (CIE@ofsted.gov.uk) with this letter:
Upon hearing about your proposal to quiz Muslim hijab-wearing school children, I was both shocked and alarmed how Ofsted could take such a position so rashly.
Will this same policy of questioning girls about the reasons for their religious dress be applied to primary school age Christian or orthodox Jewish girls who dress according to the rules of modesty (skirts below the knee, long sleeves, no trousers, no tight-fitting clothes and no bright colours)? If this is not the case, then why are Muslim children being singled out?
If this issue is about sexualisation then will Ofsted also be recommending that inspectors question primary age girls who wear short skirts, nail varnish, tight fitting clothes or any other item of dress that could be associated with sexual attractiveness in women? Or if it’s through the lens of modesty, then what about long skirts and trousers? If not, why not?
In addition, if the issue is about equality then will Ofsted also be investigating all mainstream and church schools that don’t allow girls and boys the same uniform options e.g. where girls are not allowed to wear trousers? Or Jewish schools where boys wear a skull cap but girls don’t? If this policy applies exclusively against Muslims how can it be furthering equality?
Why did Ofsted not consult with any mainstream or representative Muslim organisations who could have clarified that hijab is never about sexualising young girls? Many girls dress to imitate their mother or even out of their own choice.
It is shocking that Ofsted has not considered the psychological impact on young girls of being singled out and questioned about their religious practice, especially during today’s climate of toxic Islamophobia.
Ofsted should reconsider and retract the recommendation for inspectors to question Muslim girls about why they wear hijab.
2) Write to your local MP asking what their stance is on this issue and asking that they raise these concerns with Ofsted. (Please send a copy of your MP’s reply to MPACUK via firstname.lastname@example.org)