Another reason I disagree with “Faith schools”

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I also disagree with all “faith schools” because they are politicised when they become embarrassing. For example schools with a ‘Christian ethos’ propagating un-British values (as determined by Ofsted) are named and shamed, while schools with a Muslim ethos and doing the same thing are granted legal anonymity. Is this the new orthodoxy?

When the Durham Free School and Grindon Hall Christian School were criticised by Ofsted as educationally deficient for failing to promote ‘British values’ by not teaching what Muslims believe and what lesbians do, they were publicly named and shamed for holding ignorance, bigotry and discriminatory views.

Apparently it was the ignorance of just a few individual pupils but that didn’t matter to Ofsted. One inspector concluded:

“Leaders are failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain. Some students hold discriminatory views of other people who have different faiths, values or beliefs from themselves.”

Such Christian schools are placed in special measures, closed down or taken over but when Muslim School X (it cannot be named for legal reasons) is deemed inadequate Ofsted reports are quashed and the school shielded from public shame. A High Court judge (no less) determined that censorship is justified on the grounds that disclosure is likely “to generate a media storm and tensions and fears for parents and the local community”. There’s the “hot-potato” effect.

The deficiencies in this particular Muslim school include a gender-segregation policy, which makes girls inferior. It may or may not be the case that girls are forced to sit at the back of the class and may only consider careers in medicine and motherhood: we simply are not allowed to know on what basis the judgment was made.

But in a recent formal hearing an Ofsted inspector told a court that even this school’s pupils criticised its gender segregation policy. He said they felt it ‘was having a negative effect on being prepared for life in modern Britain’. Muslim school X is Islamic voluntary-aided and receives children aged four to 16; separating boys and girls from age ten for all lessons, and for lunchtimes, clubs and trips.

- How is it not in the public interest when a Muslim taxpayer-funded school is no doubt using taxpayers’ money to fund a High Court action to suppress a report of HM Inspectorate of Schools?

- Why are parents not permitted to know how this school treats girls differently from boys?

- Why can’t academics scrutinise a school’s culture when it deviates from its statutory obligation to promote ‘British values’?

- Why is justice being determined in secret (not a British value) rather than by the open and transparent procedures established by Parliament and which are deemed sufficient for Christian (and all  other) schools?

- What is the High Court judge afraid of? Surely the preferred British process is to weather ‘media storms’ when they are in a just cause; sometimes ‘tensions need to be raised’. Such sunlight helped to disinfect the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal in Birmingham where parental scrutiny helped to defuse corrupt attitudes and allay community fears.

What does raise public anxiety is when ‘hardliners’ are allowed to run Muslim schools, flouting any duty of care to safeguard children against potential radicalisation. Media blackouts when a special legal exemption is granted for a taxpayer-funded Muslim school is far more likely to generate a ‘media storm’, ‘raise tension’ and generate ‘fear’.

Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham urged that British Muslims “should be allowed to bypass police” when reporting hate crime owing to a “lack of trust” between the two parties. Are we now saying they should also be permitted to bypass Ofsted due to its institutionally secularist worldview and anti-religious prejudice?

It’s time to pray!



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