Religion – or more accurately differences in religious beliefs – has been said to be the cause of more deaths in our history on this planet than any other. And you don’t have to look much further than the schism between different kinds of muslims and the horrendous outcomes of that disagreement to wonder if that is true.
Since the Trojan Horse scandal in the midlands Ofsted inspectors seem to be taking the threat of extremist influences more seriously. At present the British Education Secretary has threatened to shut six independent muslim schools which, following snap inspections, have been found inadequate amid concerns about child welfare. (Of these schools four of them were previously rated as good or outstanding but three of the six schools were inspected by a muslim inspector begging the question of impartiality surely?).
At one school the designated child protection officer didn’t know he had the job. At another pupils told inspectors that a woman’s roles was to stay at home and cook and clean. At another girls had to wait for lessons to start until the teachers and the boys returned from the mosque.
The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said he was extremely concerned “about the large number of failings in each of the six independent schools inspected“. These include inadequate health and safety arrangements including locked fire exits and easy access by unauthorised members of the public (three of the schools were situated inside mosques). In all six policies relating to health, safety and welfare were missing or out of date. In four of the six schools statutory background checks had not been completed on the teaching staff.
They also had narrow curriculums focussing on developing Islamic knowledge at the expense of core subjects.
Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary said “while there is no evidence of a coordinated plot it is clear these schools are failing children and it is unacceptable. All schools must prepare children for life in modern Britain”
She has said that unless the schools produce an Action Plan within weeks she reserves the right to close them down.
Janice Turner, writing in the Times, described a conversation with a girl who had attended a private Islamic Boarding school – Jania Al-Hudaa in Nottingham. Pupils there were forbidden to swim, make art, read a newspaper, play a musical instrument, speak to the opposite sex, own a camera or read Harry Potter. Biology textbooks were censored.
Pupils din’t know the difference between sharia and British law. The majority of time on the curriculum is spent on “Islamic sciences“. Now over a thousand years ago Islamic scholars were developing ideas in maths, astronomy, physics and medicine based on what we would now recognise as a scientific approach but nowadays it’s a study of how the world is to be interpreted through the Qoran.
Furthermore these schools are funded by Saudi Arabian clerics who are devoted to spreading the extreme arab-speaking Wahabi version of Islam. (See Un- islamic things muslims do). Remember the free school in Derby that was closed down after pupils were segregated and all female staff (including non-muslims – were forced to wear the hijab?
But it’s not just muslim-run schools. Sir John Cass Foundation and Red Coat school, a Church of England secondary school which was previously rated as outstanding, has been failed by inspectors.
It failed to vet visiting speakers and didn’t teach children about the risks of extremism despite more than 90% of its pupils being muslim. Although it had achieved excellent results it was placed in special measures because the behaviour and safety of students.
Some students had set up Facebook and Youtube accounts account linked to jihadi extremism and boys and girls were segregated in the school. How can the head, Haydn Evans, who got a CBE this year plus an honorary degree from the University of London only this week, have thought this was OK?
And today the Sunday Times reported on Hasidic, Orthodox Jewish, schools where students were students’s welfare was neglected and in one school students were slapped as punishment because teachers thought it “resulted in full submission”. The curriculum of these schools seems to consist of teaching religious instruction in Yiddish or Hebrew.
Two schools in Stamford Hill, London, have been threatened with closure and one in Salford has been downgraded from good to inadequate. Another London school has been downgraded from outstanding to good. Last year it received a warning after blacking out questions on evolution in GCSE science examinations.
Apparently theDfE has had concerns about some of these school for 5 years! It said “Some orthodox Jewish schools often do not devote priority and time to secular education”. According to a mother of a pulp at one of the schools only 1 hour a day was spent on non-religious education.
The government’s guidelines on spiritual, moral, social and cultural development for independent schools came into force on 29 September and the Tower Hamlet’s schools were inspected under the guidelines in October. Several are criticised as failing under the guidelines, such as not dealing with allegedly extremist leaflets in mosques associated with some of the schools.
The growth of faith schools started when Tony Blair was Prime Minister (perhaps explained by his secret desire to become a catholic) and now a third of all state schools are religious. But David Cameron is also an apologist for them saying “faith-based schools help to build ethos and community”.
And recently the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welsby, dismissed criticism of faith schools saying none had been caught up in the Trojan Horse scandal. He said “We are the solution not the problem”. Well that was two weeks ago and it shows how short-sighted the establishment can be to let these things fester in plain view because of concerns about being seen to be multi-cultural.
We should be more like France (I never thought those words would pass my lips) be proud of our British values and insist on a wholly secular education system.