Ofsted reveals "serious risk" to students’ in faith schools


Six private Muslim schools have been told they are at risk of closure if they fail to improve quickly after Ofsted warned that their pupils may be vulnerable to radicalisation.

The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned the Education Secretary that pupils may be vulnerable to extremist influences and radicalisation. In response, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has demanded urgent action from the schools, insisting that the Government will exercise its right to force them to shut down if improvements are not made within weeks.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said he was “extremely concerned” about the large number of failings in each of the independent schools inspected. According to Sir Michael: "All schools focused intensively on developing Islamic knowledge and understanding at the expense of other important areas of the curriculum."

Ofsted found that "pupils' physical and educational welfare is at serious risk."

At Mazahirul Uloom School inspectors found pupils were unable to tell the difference between sharia law and English law.

The six independent Muslim Schools, all in Tower Hamlets, are failing to provide pupils with "an appropriately broad and balanced curriculum." In one school the curriculum was focused "entirely on Islamic themes."

Commenting on the findings, Stephen Evans, National Secular Society campaigns manager, said: "For too long the rights of young people have been neglected by the willingness to allow religious communities to use schools to impose their own values and traditions on children.

"These findings demonstrate that there is an urgent need to apply a rights based approach across all educational settings, with every school recognising each individual pupil's right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and their right to a broad, objective and balanced education."

Inspectors were concerned that the schools' narrow curriculum and intense focus on Islamic studies were not preparing pupils for life in modern Britain. The schools "failed" to develop pupils' understanding of faiths and cultures other than Islam and creative subjects were "rarely taught" in some schools and entirely absent in others. In one school pupils told inspectors they believed it would be wrong to learn about other religions.

Four of the six independent schools were found not to be completing statutory background checks on staff and other welfare concerns were raised in all six, including their child protection policies and physical condition. Three of the schools were found to have insecure access as they were based in mosques open to the public, another school shared access with a public café. Facilities, including for proper first aid, were lacking in all six schools and one of the schools had moved premises without approval from the Department for Education (DfE).

Inspectors noticed a marked difference between the "quality" of Islamic teaching and that of other areas, such as English and Maths, in all six schools. Inspectors noted that "pupils were making good progress" in memorising the Quran but that, "errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar were left uncorrected by teachers."

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