The Claystone thinktank has found that the schools’ regulator Ofsted is targeting Muslim schools through the use of “no-notice inspections” in order to impose so-called “British values” on them.
In a recent report titled “Losing Faith in Ofsted,” the thinktank said that this was creating a climate of fear, intimidation and discrimination.
Over the last few years there has been a concerted effort by Ofsted to ensure that “British values” are actively promoted in schools. Through the use of no-notice inspections, these values are being imposed on schools across the country. Where schools are deemed to not be implementing these values, they can be closed down.
Report author Dr Umer Siddique said: “Our exclusive findings show that faith schools are being disproportionately targeted by these no-notice inspections. Within this cohort of faith schools, Muslim faith schools in particular, have borne the brunt of these inspections. This has created a climate of fear, intimidation and a sense of discrimination.”
Dr Siddique added: “Recent comments by the chief inspector of schools in England, Amanda Spielman, where she suggested that religious fundamentalists wanted to ‘indoctrinate impressionable minds,’ were both alarming and largely unfounded. Such sensationalist comments must raise concerns that this targeting of faith schools may well be ideologically driven…
“Where schools are performing poorly then clearly this needs to be reversed. But this sense of fear around projecting a particular, legitimate, religious identity cannot be tolerated and Ofsted has been directly implicated in cultivating this climate. We urgently call for a government rethink of current policy, in particular with a view to shifting away from this very narrow interpretation of ‘values’ to a broader shared collective identity.”
Many in the Muslim community feel that Ofsted has targeted Muslim children over the past few years. Several high-performing schools in Birmingham were put in Special Measures by Ofsted and Muslim educationalists were forced out of their jobs following the “Trojan Horse” affair, which was later largely discredited.
The former head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, critcised the wearing of the veil in schools and the current chief, Amanda Spielman, has said that Muslim girls will be questioned by inspectors about why they wear the hijab.
In February, Spielman said in a speech that religious fundamentalists wanted to “actively pervert the purpose of education … and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology”.