Schools must not allow minority groups with a “sense of religious or cultural entitlement” to dictate their policies on the wearing of hijabs or what is taught to pupils, the head of Ofsted will warn today. The Telegraph reports
Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, believes a “worrying” trend has seen heads put under pressure by particular groups who expect their views to be decisive in how the school operates, “whether or not members of that group constitute the majority of a school’s intake”.
Ms Spielman will use a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank to say that as society becomes more fragmented, schools have a crucial role to play in teaching children what it means to be a British citizen.
She says that for some children, “school may be the only time in their lives that they spend time every day with people from outside their immediate ethnic or religious group, or at least where the values of people outside their own group can be explained and openly discussed”.
In recent years a string of British schoolchildren have run away to join Islamic State fighters in Syria, including several teenage girls who have become “jihadi brides”.
The Chief Inspector will talk of “worrying” developments in some state schools, as well as some independent schools and unregistered provision, where “an expanding sense of religious and/or cultural entitlement to have aspects of a school’s provision dictated by the preferences of a particular group, whether or not that members of that group constitute the majority of a school’s intake.”
Warning against ducking difficult debates, she will conclude on the importance of making them discussable, saying: “For many people, the things I have been talking about today are too sensitive and too difficult for them to want to risk giving offence. They are easy things to skirt, yet the risk of doing so is great. If we leave these subjects to the EDL and BNP on the one hand and Islamists on the other, the mission of integration will fail.”
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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