The government is too politically correct to help schools attempting to ban Islamic hijabs, leaving teachers “alone, isolated and vulnerable”, the former head of Ofsted has said.
Schools are allowed to set their own policies for Islamic veiling, but Sir Michael Wilshaw said the Department for Education’s refusal to issue a formal policy had led to schools facing pressure from hardline Muslims.
He also claimed that there are some 150 schools in the country where young children are forced to wear the religious garments, which campaigners say sexualise young girls.
His comments come after St. Stephen’s Primary School in east London was forced to reverse a ban on the hijab for pre-pubescent infants.
After introducing the ban, St. Stephen’s was targeted by hard left and ‘extremist’ Islamic groups, and the chairman of governors, Arif Qawi, was forced to resign following abuse.
Those attacking the school included the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which is linked to the pro-caliphate Muslim Brotherhood, MEND, which host radical speakers, and CAGE, which has defended Islamic State jihadists.
Current Ofsted boss, Amanda Spielman, faced anti-Semitic abuse after backing the school’s head teacher and claiming that fundamentalists wanted to “actively pervert the purpose of education… and in the worst cases indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology”.
Ofsted Boss Who Backed Infant Hijab Ban Faces Anti-Semitic Attacks https://t.co/qrgSOjSYAx
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 6, 2018
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live this Wednesday, Sir Michael said: “There’s something like 150 schools… which in short make it compulsory for youngsters to wear a hijab – so what’s happening about those schools?
“The country has enormously changed. When heads want to change things, they have now to take into account deep-seated and sincere feeling of communities, some of whom who have conservative views.
“The government needs to step in. It can no longer say it’s up to the head teachers. That head might be faced with an opposition which says, well hang on, you made this decision, but there’s a school half a mile away which does allow [veiling for infants and primary aged children].”
When asked if political correctness stopped the government from issuing a national policy on hijabs in schools, he replied: “Yes absolutely. There is a reticence, and it’s leaving head teachers alone, isolated and vulnerable.”
Sir Michael also warned that the government had not learned from the Trojan Horse scandal, when Islamic fundamentalists organised to impose a hardline ideology on public Birmingham schools, including banning sex education and music.
“The Trojan Horse issue showed what can happen, and it’s really up to the Department for Education to say this is now an ongoing issue that is affecting more than a few schools. You need to come up with some policies,” he said.