Recent controversies surrounding the requirement include a school which required girls to wear face veils when outside and another school that banned girls under the age of eight from wearing hijabs only to have to renege on the policy after experiencing enormous (and abusive) backlash from parents.
According to the head of the UK governmental agency Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education), Amanda Spielman, “Ofsted inspectors are increasingly brought into contact with those who want to actively pervert the purpose of education. Under the pretext of religious belief, they use education institutions, legal and illegal, to narrow young people’s horizons, to isolate and segregate, and in the worst cases to indoctrinate impressionable minds with extremist ideology.
“Freedom of belief in the private sphere is paramount, but in our schools it is our responsibility to tackle those who actively undermine fundamental British values or equalities law.”
Commenting on the current situation, the former head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that the government is too politically correct to step in and do anything about the situation.
Wilshaw noted how the UK has changed, which he believes necessitates a policy decision made by the government on these matters. “When [principals] 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 lack of an established policy unfairly leaves the principals “isolated and vulnerable,” he said.
Spielman contends, “Rather than adopting a passive liberalism, that says ‘anything goes’ for fear of causing offense, school leaders should be promoting a muscular liberalism.
“It means not assuming that the most conservative voices in a particular faith speak for everyone — imagine if people thought the Christian Institute were the sole voice of Anglicanism. And it means schools must not be afraid to call out practices, whatever their justification, that limit young people’s experiences and learning.”