Religious extremists are ‘perverting education’ by using schools to narrow a child’s horizons, the chief inspector of schools in England has warned.
Ofsted’s Amanda Spielman says that some community leaders are seeing schools as being a vehicle to indoctrinate an ‘impressionable mind’.
She adds that some of these leaders, in some cases, are using extremist ideology.
She highlights that Ofsted inspectors are coming into contact with extremists on a regular basis and she wants headteachers to confront anyone who is fostering extremist behaviour.
At a conference, Ms Spielman said: “Rather than having a passive liberalism which says anything goes for fear of causing offence, school leaders should promote a more muscular liberalism.
“This is the sort of liberalism that holds no truck for an ideology that seeks to close minds and narrow opportunity.”
‘Having a tough conversation or making uncomfortable decisions’
She added: “This will mean, occasionally, having a tough conversation or making uncomfortable decisions.
“It means not assuming that a conservative voice for a particular faith is speaking for everyone.”
She added that inspectors from Ofsted are now being brought into increasing contact with people looking to ‘pervert education’s purpose’.
She said that extremists are using their religious beliefs to segregate and isolate, and in some instances, to indoctrinate impressionable young minds with their extremist ideology.
Ms Spielman said: “The freedom of belief in private is paramount but our schools are responsible for tackling those who undermine actively British values or equalities law.”
Ms Spielman has criticised practices carried out in some private faith schools
Previously, Ms Spielman has criticised practices carried out in some private faith schools and in other schools.
She also stressed that she is not targeting the Islamic faith but all forms of fundamentalism.
Ms Spielman also voiced her support for the headteacher of one east London primary school that tried to prevent girls under the age of eight who wanted to wear the hijab in class.
The headteacher also wanted to prevent young pupils from fasting during Ramadan in school hours.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “There’s no place for extremism in our society and it’s why we changed the requirements and the law on schools so they have to promote actively ‘fundamental British values’ of the rule of law, democracy, individual liberty and the mutual tolerance and respect of those with different beliefs and faiths.”
He added: “If there are allegations of a school promoting discrimination or ideologies in the classroom, we will not hesitate to take action.”