Segregation not stamped out in schools because parents are 'afraid'

Segregation is not being stamped out in schools because parents are ‘afraid’ to cause offence, Ofsted chief warns

  • Concerns about religious sensitivities meant that parents were not speaking out 
  • Amanda Spielman drew parallel with child exploitation by Asian grooming gangs
  • Mrs Spielman called on local authorities and MPs to do more to solve problem

Segregation is not being stamped out in schools because people are ‘afraid’ to cause offence, Ofsted’s chief inspector warned yesterday.

Amanda Spielman said concerns about religious, cultural and ethnic sensitivities meant parents were not speaking out about the practice of treating boys and girls differently.

She drew a parallel with the scandal of police and local authorities failing to tackle child exploitation by Asian grooming gangs as a result of ‘censoring ourselves’.

But rather than shrinking from their responsibilities, people should be ‘braver’ to stop children being exposed to damaging practices, added Mrs Spielman.

Last month, the Mail reported how inspectors found Redstone Academy (pictured), Birmingham, guilty of discrimination for segregating pupils and giving boys preferential treatment

‘In a school in Birmingham, we found some very, very rigid segregation that meant that boys were always put ahead of girls for everything,’ she said.

‘Children literally didn’t see each other. We found books in the library saying men can beat their wives – provided they don’t leave a mark – and that women aren’t entitled to refuse sex to their husbands.’

This example was an Islamic school but it was ‘theoretically for all children’ as it was a state-funded community school. Conditions were also ‘very restricted’ at a Jewish school in London, Mrs Spielman told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday show on Sky News.

‘Not just on the kinds of topics we know are sensitive for some people around evolution and reproduction but things as startling as the history of the reign of Queen Elizabeth – the girls weren’t allowed to know that,’ she added.

‘There’s a slide to shutting down what children are allowed to know. How can we make sure everybody’s prepared for adult life if we let schools narrow what they do?

‘Problems exist at a small minority of schools but the point is because of our sensitivities about religion, culture, ethnicity, we’re very reluctant to say we’ve got some really tough issues.’

The private Islamic-faith secondary Redstone Academy (pictured) said improvements were under way

Mrs Spielman said difficulties arose when ‘religion and other rights bump into each other’. Referring to the abuse of girls in Rochdale, Rotherham and other cities, she said: ‘There’s no question that we’re afraid. All the dreadful grooming gang stories – that shows vividly what happens when we censor ourselves.

‘We desperately need everybody to be a little bit braver, calling things by their name, talking about what’s there.’

Mrs Spielman called on local authorities and MPs to do more to solve the problem.

 Last month, the Mail reported how inspectors found Redstone Academy, Birmingham, guilty of discrimination for segregating pupils and giving boys preferential treatment.

The private Islamic-faith secondary said improvements were under way.

The Campaign for Real Education also warned that girls were often treated as second-class citizens but people were ‘scared’ to say anything.

Chairman Chris McGovern said: ‘We mustn’t be afraid to speak truth to the power of political correctness. Otherwise we are finished as a society. We will fragment.’

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