This little video came to me via WhatsApp and it is obviously aimed at the very silly Amanda Spielman, head of Ofsted and chief inspector of schools who is concerned over the issue of schoolgirls wearing hijabs.
The video, made by Ahlulbayt TV, features Amira Bdaiwa from London and she has a message for Spielman who caused a storm a few days back when she ruled that school inspectors in England should question Muslim primary school girls about their dress if they are wearing a hijab or similar headscarf.
Little Amira is wise beyond her years and gives Spielman a lesson in common sense and she would be wise to take notice of this young hijabi who, I’m reliably informed, wrote her own script and initiated the video!
The video was prompted by plans by Ofsted to ask Muslim girls in primary schools why they are wearing a hijab. Spielman announced the intervention after a meeting with some Muslim and secular campaigners who told her they want a ban on hijabs in primary schools.
Spielman justified her plans by saying that “creating an environment where primary-school children are expected to wear the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”. She said Ofsted inspectors would talk to the young girls about their decision to cover and “why they do so in the school”.
She urged anyone who “has a concern about fundamentalist groups influencing school policy, or breaching equality law” to complain to the school. If the school did not act, Ofsted could become involved,she said.
Harun Khan, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, called on Ofsted to reverse its “wrong-headed approach” and the MCB has now published the views of 100 Muslim women about the Ofsted plans.
But it’s not just Muslims who are concerned about Ofsted plans. Jewish educational organisations have also expressed their concerns. Rabbi David Meyer, executive director of Partnerships for Jewish Schools, described the investigation of religious head-dress as “very troubling” to a Jewish Chronicle journalist adding that Ofsted is “in danger of falling into the trap of those with an anti-faith agenda and undermining the very foundations of tolerance and freedom of practice it has been charged to uphold”.
Judith Nemeth, executive director of the National Association of Orthodox Jewish Schools, also said the inspection service’s “constant barrage on religious and ethical standards is of great concern and reflects a disproportionate emphasis within the inspection of standards of education in schools.”
She added: “Even though Ms Spielman may find the sight of the hijab forbidding, I cannot imagine wearing a hijab prevents the brain from processing information and skills, which is at the forefront of education”.
The Jewish Board of Deputies says it will also be seeking clarification from the education authorities on how Ofsted proposes to carry out its enquiries.
I too, have a message for Miss Spielman. While the English education system is in meltdown this non-issue apparently has the focus of Spielman who believes the wearing of a hijab “could be interpreted as sexualisation” of girls as young as four or five. She might have a point, who knows? But let’s have a serious discussion over this tiny minority issue outside of the Ofsted arena.
Let’s talk to the parents as well as the children in a completely agenda-free environment. I’d like to focus instead on something far more urgent like Spielman’s record as head of Ofsted. For example, I’d like to know exactly what she is doing to stop the exodus of teachers in England?
There is also the extremely serious problem of body imaging, bullying and self harm which is leading to cripplingly low self esteem among our schoolchildren, many of whom also suffer from extreme eating disorders.
This is the 21st century Miss Spielman and I’m deeply concerned you’re confused over the colonial status of 21st century England. Save your ‘white saviour’ complex for elsewhere. If I were doing an annual report on you dear, I’d have to say: “Much room for improvement. Easily distracted on minor issues to avoid confronting real ones. Could do better.”
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