Failed Independent Muslim School Claims Alternative is Radicalised Home Education

The Daily Mail is reporting that a failing independent Muslim school in East London has lost an appeal against being shut down. During the appeal, the school claimed that if it were forced to close, pupils would be at risk of radicalisation through being home educated instead.

This line of argument was not successful.

The Mail quotes Tribunal Judge Laurence Bennett as saying “we are not persuaded that there is a binary consequence, that is attendance at Ayasofia, a school judged to have significant failings, or home schooling with attendant risks”  adding that “parents’ religious views cannot override fundamental requirements appropriate for the safe and effective delivery of education to their children whilst attending school”.

POST UPDATED SEPTEMBER 4TH:  The Care Standards Tribunal judgment is now online, via this page.

Background 

Ayasofia Primary School, in Whitechapel  has failed a series of Ofsted inspections

As outlined in the Tribunal judgment, Ofsted inspected the school in March 2015 and found failings. The school then submitted an Action Plan. Ofsted inspected again in July and the Government rejected the Action Plan.  Ofsted carried out further inspections in September and December 2015 and at the end of December the Secretary of State advised Cityside Trurst of her decision to remove the school from the independent schools register.

Ayasofia then appealed. Home education was mentioned in the judgment.

The suggestion that home schooling, possibly unregistered with the Local
Education Authority is the likely alternative to pupils’ attendance at Ayasofia is not
accepted as alternative schools are available. Even so, whilst risk factors were put
forward in evidence and attention drawn to research, we observe as stated by the
Secretary of State that home schooling is not unlawful and is an option open to
parents. It was not purported that attendance at Ayasofia is a requirement of
religious observance or belief that could not otherwise be satisfied. We note the
contrary in that Ayasofia has introduced elements that might not usually be found
within a conservative religious curriculum, such as girls learning the Koran and
visits to non-Islamic places of worship. On that basis we consider home schooling
to be a less likely option for this subset of parents notwithstanding their previous
background….

We are not persuaded that there is a binary consequence, that is attendance at
Ayasofia a school judged to have significant failings or home schooling with
attendant risks. The Borough has many schools and evidence was given of
alternative independent faith schools.

Full-time independent schools providing education to 5 or more children (or just 1 child with a statement or EHCP) are required to register and submit to regular inspections.

Part-time schools are NOT currently required to register.

Being registered as a full time independent school means complying with the rules concerning the welfare, health and safety of pupils, the breadth of the curriculum – including lessons in written and spoken English, the quality of educational provision, the suitability of teaching staff and proprietors, having appropriate premises, and keeping detailed records on pupils’ progress.

The law also says that independent schools must actively promote “fundamental British values” and ensure that there is political balance in teaching and other activities.

More about the requirements for independent schools here

References in the media to “illegal schools” are talking about schools which meet the criteria for registering as independent schools but where the proprietors have opted NOT to register.

NB some long-standing Charedi Jewish schools in East London were in the news earlier this year because they had NEVER registered and the Ofsted visits were all “pre-registration inspections” which is completely different because THOSE schools were operating illegally.

 

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3 thoughts on “Failed Independent Muslim School Claims Alternative is Radicalised Home Education

    1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

      Ooh interesting, thank you!

      “The suggestion that home schooling, possibly unregistered with the Local
      Education Authority is the likely alternative to pupils’ attendance at Ayasofia is not
      accepted as alternative schools are available. Even so, whilst risk factors were put
      forward in evidence and attention drawn to research, we observe as stated by the
      Secretary of State that home schooling is not unlawful and is an option open to
      parents. It was not purported that attendance at Ayasofia is a requirement of
      [2016] UKFTT 0587 (HESC)
      7
      religious observance or belief that could not otherwise be satisfied. We note the
      contrary in that Ayasofia has introduced elements that might not usually be found
      within a conservative religious curriculum, such as girls learning the Koran and
      visits to non-Islamic places of worship. On that basis we consider home schooling
      to be a less likely option for this subset of parents notwithstanding their previous
      background.”

      Like

      Reply
      1. Fiona Nicholson Post author

        “We are satisfied that Mr Umair was committed to the development of education of a
        particular nature for the Islamic community and have no reason to doubt his good
        intentions. It is disappointing there was a sustained failure to observe if not an
        active disregard of the Regulatory requirements for provision of independent
        education.
        66. It is implicit in the Appellant’s submissions that they consider Ofsted should have
        taken a management consultancy approach and perhaps advised Ayasofia beyond
        the comments contained in inspection reports. This was voiced by Mr Umair at the
        hearing. We do not consider this is Ofsted’s role, it is an organisation charged with
        inspection of schools. Whilst incidental advice may be given, not least by
        identification of failings and requirements, it is not Ofsted’s role to take active part in
        management of individual schools.”

        Like

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