Ofsted inspectors enter hijab row school

Ofsted has begun an inspection of a school at the centre of a row over its decision to ban younger pupils from wearing the hijab.

The watchdog has not said why its staff are at the ‘outstanding’-rated St Stephen’s Primary School in Newham, east London, today, but Schools Week understands the school had not been due a routine inspection.

St Stephen’s made headlines earlier this month after it emerged it had banned the headscarf for pupils aged eight and under in a change to its school uniform policy.

However, the school’s leaders recently revoked the decision after widespread complaints from the local community. The school’s chair of governors Arif Qawi also resigned over the issue.

At its last inspection in 2011, St Stephen’s was rated ‘outstanding’, and under Ofsted’s own rules, schools with the top rating are not reinspected unless “concerns arise”.

However, it is not clear whether the uniform row is behind today’s visit.

An Ofsted spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Ofsted HM Inspectors have begun an inspection visit to St Stephen’s Primary School today. We will publish our findings in a short report at the end of February.”

Schools Week contacted the school for comment but received no response.

More to follow.