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UK schools watchdog to quiz Muslim schoolgirls on why they wear the hijab

MCB calls the policy of questioning young girls "deeply worrying" [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 November, 2017

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British school watchdog Ofsted will question Muslim schoolgirls as young as four on why they wear the headscarf
British-Muslim schoolgirls who cover their hair will be asked why they chose to wear the hijab, schools watchdog Ofsted said on Monday.

Amanda Spielman, the watchdog's chief inspector, said that creating an environment where Muslim children are expected to wear the headscarf in primary school "could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls".

This is due to the coverings being associated with modesty.

The announcement comes after Spielman met campaigners from the Social Action and Research Foundation think tank on Friday.

"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," said Spielman.

"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."

She then called on the British-Muslim community to inform authorities about "fundamentalist" groups who might be influencing schoolchildren. 

"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."

The Muslim Council of Britain said the policy of questioning young girls however was, "deeply worrying".

"It is deeply worrying that Ofsted has announced it will be specifically targeting and quizzing young Muslim girls who choose to wear the headscarf," MCB's Secretary General Harun Khan

"It sends a clear message to all British women who adopt this that they are second-class citizens, that while they are free to wear the headscarf, the establishment would prefer that they do not."

"The many British-Muslims who choose to wear the headscarf have done extremely well in education and are breaking glass ceilings."

Khan added that the approach risks being both counter-productive and undermining the very "British values" Ofsted claims to promote. 

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