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Newsview :Schools 'too focused on Islam'
« on: November 22, 2014, 12:00:04 AM »



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Schools 'too focused on Islam'

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter


  Sir Michael WilshawSir Michael Wilshaw wants more frequent inspections


The first of of six damning Ofsted reports on private Muslim schools in east London reveals pupils did not know the difference between Sharia and British law.


A snap inspection of the Mazahirul Uloom School in Tower Hamlets says the school focused only on Islamic themes.


Pupils believed it was wrong to learn about other religions and were not taught art, music or drama.


The other reports are set to criticise "safeguarding" in the schools.


Government sources have stressed there is no Trojan Horse-style plot to spread a conservative Muslim ethos here - as found at schools in Birmingham - but there are concerns that pupils are not protected from extremist views.


Mazahirul Uloom is a small secondary boys' school that professes to teach the National Curriculum and Islamic Sciences, but inspectors found too much of the curriculum "focuses solely on Islamic themes" and judged it inadequate.


They also found pupils had a "narrow view" of women in society.


Some students told inspectors: "Women stay at home and clean and look after the children. They cook and pray and wait for us to come back from school with homework."


It also said there were no systems in place to check suitability of external speakers and that children were not safe because staff recruitment checks were not rigorous enough.


An emergency inspection of the 185-pupil boys' secondary Jammiatul Ummah found there were good opportunities to study and practise their Islamic faith but in other respects students were not provided with a broad and balanced curriculum. It was previously judged outstanding but has been downgraded to inadequate.


The report said: "The narrowness of the curriculum means that students' spiritual, moral, social and cultural education, in particular their understanding of the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance, is underdeveloped."


Students also lacked opportunities to learn about music and art, or to be creative in PE.


The reports follow a series of snap inspections at the schools in October and each school will be given an immediate action plan.


Two or three of the schools, all in Tower Hamlets, are said to be "more concerning" than others, but each school is thought to have different issues.


These are understood to range from basic issues to do with health and safety to the type of speakers who have been visiting the school and, in some cases, the risk that children are not protected from extremist views.


The publication comes a day after details leaked of a report on another school, Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat school, in Stepney, east London.


This is the only state school in the group to be inspected as part of the same set of seven snap inspections and failed for not safeguarding and monitoring pupils adequately.


The report, also being published on Friday, is expected to say that a sixth-form society at the school set up social media site that was not adequately monitored.


The segregation of boys and girls in indoor and outdoor play areas was also highlighted.

  'No jurisdiction'

Tower Hamlets council said it could not comment until the reports for all the schools had been published.


But director of education Robert McCulloch-Graham said: "We note that of the schools inspected, only one is a publicly funded maintained school.


"As is common practice, we will work with the leadership of this school to address any issues identified by Ofsted.


"As a local education authority, we have no jurisdiction whatsoever over teaching and standards at independent faith schools. This is Ofsted's area of responsibility.


"We do, however, have responsibility for safeguarding all children in the borough and have always exercised our safeguarding duties to the full."


Independent schools, academies and free schools already have to adhere to the Independent School Standards (ISS), which demand that schools encourage pupils to "respect" British values.

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