Ofsted slams Islamic schools over safeguarding, curriculum failures

Posted: Thu, 27 Jan 2022

Ofsted slams Islamic schools over safeguarding, curriculum failures

Two Islamic independent schools have failed to meet school standards, according to recent inspection reports.

An Ofsted report published on Tuesday revealed the Institute of Islamic Education in Dewsbury, rated 'inadequate', failed to recognise an "extremely serious safeguarding concern" that had to be referred to the police.

Another report published on the same day gave Hafs Academy in Stratford a rating of 'requires improvement' for failing to adequately plan what pupils learn outside Islamic studies.

Institute of Islamic Education

Inspectors said the Institute of Islamic Education, a boarding school on the grounds of a mosque for boys and young men aged 11-25, has a "lax attitude towards safeguarding". During the inspection, they identified "a serious and significant safeguarding concern" which school leaders had not identified because they had not linked "readily available" pieces of safeguarding intelligence together.

The inspectors asked the school's leaders to refer this "extremely serious safeguarding concern" to the local authority's children's services and to the police.

Pupils stated that they "did not feel safe in school." Ofsted also found some pupils "struggled to sleep" and that their mental health was "compromised".

Inspectors said some school leaders are "too concerned about the views of parents, rather than prioritising the child's needs".

Weak attendance systems at the school mean pupils can have unauthorised absences for a period of time without leaders taking action. Additionally, there are no records of when phone calls have been made to parents to check why pupils are not attending, the report said.

In July 2021 the school was found to have a book in its library that advocated death for gay people. Previously it has told parents their children faced expulsion if they socialised with non-Muslims and forbidden children from watching TV, listening to music or reading newspapers.

Hafs Academy

Inspectors at Hafs Academy, which is for boys aged seven to 16, found that while school leaders "aim for pupils to excel" in Islamic studies, pupils "feel they are missing out on learning in other subjects".

The report said leaders "do not ensure that what pupils learn outside Islamic studies is planned consistently well".

It found that in years 9 to 11, teachers do not usually extend pupils' knowledge beyond the confines of the examination syllabus. Additionally, pupils do not have the option to choose the GCSE subjects they wish to study.

The report also said leaders do not ensure pupils have enough resources to support their learning. This means pupils do not do any experiments in science, for example.

Additionally, inspectors found leaders "do not fulfil the statutory requirements to provide pupils with a programme of impartial careers education, information, advice and guidance".

NSS Comment

A spokesperson from the National Secular Society's education team said: "In both these schools, the demands of religious communities and the desire to inculcate Islamic teachings appear to have been prioritised over the educational and welfare needs of the pupils.

"It is particularly shocking that inspectors had to instruct the Institute of Islamic Education to refer a serious safeguarding issue to the police.

"This school has a very poor track record of safeguarding and putting children's needs first. All children, from all communities, should be protected in education from potential risk or abuse – this must be prioritised over religious concerns. And schools that consistently refuse to meet basic standards should be closed."

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What the NSS stands for

The Secular Charter outlines 10 principles that guide us as we campaign for a secular democracy which safeguards all citizens' rights to freedom of and from religion.

Tags: Independent schools