Seven independent faith schools banned from admitting new pupils

Posted: Tue, 08 Oct 2019

Classroom

Seven independent schools in England were barred from admitting new pupils this academic year after seriously or persistently failing to meet standards – and all of them were faith schools.

The Department for Education (DfE) published enforcement notices last week which it has sent to the schools since 2017, with failings relating to safeguarding, governance and other issues.

The DfE had previously sent warning notices to all seven schools following poor reports by the school inspectorate Ofsted.

The enforcement action prevents the schools from admitting new pupils. These were the only schools listed as facing such a restriction as of 31 August this year.

The schools sent enforcement letters were:

  • Talmud Torah Yetev Lev, a strictly Orthodox Jewish school in London. Pupils at this school reported being slapped or smacked if they misbehaved. Ofsted also criticised the school's "narrow" curriculum, "weak" progress in subjects "other than religious studies", and poor safeguarding.
  • Rabia Girls' School, an Islamic school in Luton. The school has "unmet standards" relating to pupils' welfare, health and safety. In 2017 Ofsted found the school was failing to teach British values adequately, limiting girls to "knitting and sewing" in design and technology and separating male and female staff during training sessions.
  • Beis Ruchel D'Satmar School, a strictly Orthodox Jewish school in London. School inspectors were prevented from speaking to pupils about their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, and school leaders affirmed that they "make no reference to promoting protected characteristics".
  • Oak Tree High, an Islamic school in Sheffield. Ofsted inspectors said safeguarding procedures were "lax" and there is "no culture of safeguarding at the school".
  • Al-Ihsaan Community College, an Islamic school in Leicester. Pupils there "were not making sufficient progress" and teachers "did not have secure subject knowledge". In 2017 the National Secular Society found that girls at this school were required to observe a strict Islamic modesty code.
  • Park Avenue Girls' High School, an Islamic school in Stoke-On-Trent. It was criticised for insufficiently challenging work and poor safeguarding.
  • Olive Tree Primary School, an Islamic school in Luton. Ofsted said struggling pupils "are not being well supported".

NSS education and schools officer Alastair Lichten said: "It is very revealing that all seven schools under enforcement action are faith schools.

"Such abysmal failings are inevitable when schools prioritise religious indoctrination over pupils' education and wellbeing.

"All schools that fail to prepare children adequately for life in 21st century UK society must be held to account. Religion is no excuse for failing in this fundamental duty."

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Tags: Independent Schools, Education