Letter to Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman on Hijab Quizzing in Schools

Below is a letter from the Secretary General of the MCB to Ofsted Chief, Amanda Spielman, about the latest announcement Ms Spielman, to have inspectors ‘quiz’ young girls wearing the hijab to find out why they wear it:

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Dear Ms Spielman,

I am writing on behalf of the Muslim Council of Britain – the largest umbrella body of Muslim organisations in the country, with over 500 affiliates from a range of schools of thought across the UK.

Following your recent announcement in The Sunday Times that Ofsted inspectors will be quizzing young Muslim girls who wear the headscarf, significant concern was raised within Muslim communities, which we reflected in our statement released earlier this week (see here).

We are also concerned about your apparent linking of young girls wearing the headscarf to “fundamentalist groups influencing school policy” – fears I hope you will be able to assuage.

Since the announcement, we have heard from a number of Muslim women, who have expressed their thoughts on the new policy and the apparent rationale that hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”. We have attached the views of over 100 Muslim women from across the UK and from a range of backgrounds, for your reference.

There are legitimate discussions amongst parents about whether young children should wear a headscarf at school (given there is no Islamic obligation for pre-pubescent girls), how much real choice young children truly have and what is appropriate in terms of school uniform policy. However, we fear that the Ofsted’s approach and the language used, will give the impression that you do not understand the communities which are being targeted.

We would like to invite you to hear the views of Muslim parents, teachers and communities directly – if you could perhaps propose an evening or weekend when you would be available, we will be able to make the necessary arrangements.

We hope that you will accept this invitation.

Thank you.

Yours,

Harun Khan

Secretary General
Muslim Council of Britain