Faith School Issues

Faith Schools are again at the centre of controversy as Governors at an Islamic school have lodged a complaint over a highly critical report.

Ofsted found pupils at the independent Olive Tree Primary School in Luton had to ask for toilet paper and wash their cutlery in toilet sinks which is appalling and there is little excuse for this.

_99603340_b27c0aac-220f-4958-8eb3-5ecd06f417efHowever, the Chair of governors Dr Nurul Islam said a number of issues had been “rectified” and a formal complaint lodged over the report’s findings. I find this rather odd behaviour as the asking for toilet paper etc is unacceptable and you will get a critical report if these things are found.

Another worrying aspect of this is that Inspectors found a number of standards were not met, reporting that “inappropriate books” that “did not promote British values” had been found during a previous inspection.

Despite school leaders stating the titles had been removed, the books, including some by a banned author with “extreme views about punishment by death”, were still on the shelves when inspectors re-visited the establishment in November.

It would appear that this school does not wish to follow the Ofsted guidelines and therefore it seems rather odd that you would then complain about Ofsted…maybe it is time to shut the school down if it unable to operate within the law.

This really does no favours for all the excellent faith school that we send our children to.

The report also raised concerns about health and safety standards in the school, for which Luton Borough Council has safeguarding responsibilities. There are standards that all schools have to live up to the same framework and standards is there for all schools.

Ofsted said “We do not expect faith schools to abandon their religious principles. “We do, however, expect them to ensure pupils are adequately prepared for life in modern Britain.”

Quite rightly.

Labour councillor Mahmood Hussain said the council had a “high level of concern” over the quality of education and health and safety practices at the school, which it had shared with the Department for Education and Ofsted over “an extended period of time”.

“If [a good a quality education] cannot be achieved at Olive Tree then we would want to see the DfE as regulator for independent schools to take robust action,” he said.

Looking at the Ofsted Report there are many more areas that need attention:

Independent school standards relating to the curriculum were not met at the May 2017
inspection because the curriculum policy did not reflect the practice in the school.
Leaders did not ensure that pupils’ personal, social and health education (PSHE) was
considered in the curriculum plan and the curriculum did not encourage respect for
others, paying particular attention to protected characteristics set out in the Equalities
Act 2010.

Since the inspection in May 2017, the proprietor has reviewed the curriculum policy. A
new policy was ratified in July 2017 but it remains the case that the policy and plans do
not reflect what is actually taught.

Leaders outline their rationale for the curriculum and explain that the requirements of
the national curriculum are followed for the teaching of English, mathematics and a
range of other subjects. However, the policy and the curriculum plans do not take into
account the changes made to the revised national curriculum framework and
programmes of study, devised by the Department for Education (DfE) in 2013 and
implemented in 2014 for all subjects.

The curriculum plans are organised into long-, medium- and short-term programmes but many do not reflect current teaching. Therefore, the plans are out of date. The policy
states that music and dance are not taught to pupils. However, the long-term plan for
pupils in Years 3 and 4 identifies that pupils learn music and are taught to play the violin
and this does not happen. In the class for Years 5 and 6, the plans outline the teaching
of dance in physical education lessons but this does not happen. The headteacher and
pupils confirm that the subjects taught in lessons and the timetables do not reflect the
curriculum plans that leaders provided to inspectors.

Pupils are not taught the hours outlined for each subject in the curriculum policy. Pupils
in key stage 1 are taught physical education, which forms part of PSHE, for 50 minutes
each week. The policy states that physical education is taught for three hours per week,
two of which will happen outdoors, and the policy does not refer to a difference for age
groups.

Inspectors reviewed schemes of work that had not been adapted well enough to meet
the needs of individual pupils, particularly those who are the most able and those who
require additional support. In too many subjects, pupils are not able to demonstrate
age-related expectations. Teachers’ subject knowledge of the current national curriculum
expectations is not secure enough to plan learning to meet the different needs of pupils
in their classes.

Leaders say that they provide for pupils to learn aspects of PSHE, fundamental British
values and respect for people with protected characteristics through circle time in key
stage 1. However, from the information provided by the school, there is no evidence to
show when this learning occurs. Leaders’ new spiritual, moral, social and cultural
development plans do not currently include lessons for key stage 1 to show how they
plan to teach pupils these aspects of PSHE separately from whole-school assemblies.

It goes on and on.

These are some of the most worrying aspect for me:

‘Leaders have not ensured that these independent school standards are met’

‘The headteacher confirmed that checks on the quality of teaching and learning have not taken place’

‘there were no resources available for pupils to use to support them’ (in maths lessons)

‘that school leaders do not fulfill all of their duties to keep pupils safe, and the welfare of pupils continues to be compromised’

These are schools you could find yourself working in. Do not get drawn in to protecting anyone but yourself.

Do not put yourself at risk.

The Ofsted Report is here and makes sad and shocking reading.

Any school in which we are likely to work MUST be up to standard.

I hope that this school and any school like this are closed for the good of the community and the children.

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Ofsted inspectors to quiz schoolgirls in hijabs

I saw this on the BBC today.

Apparently Inspectors will question girls who wear hijabs in primary school to find out why they do so, head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman has said. She said creating an _98820290_8191dc4a-d80f-44d5-aabc-7025e2cc7267environment where Muslim children are expected to wear the headscarf “could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls”.

She may well have a point as the hijab is traditionally worn as a sign of modesty once a girl reaches puberty.

And as far as I am aware it is not uncommon for young girls to marry older men. This certainly happens in other countries but is illegal here although why make your child wear a hijab when she is so young.

But the Muslim Council of Britain said Ofsted’s policy was “deeply worrying”. The announcement comes after Ms Spielman met campaigners from the Social Action and Research Foundation think thank on Friday.

In September, the foundation’s head, Amina Lone, co-ordinated a letter to the Sunday Times from campaigners arguing that the hijab has “no place in our primary schools”, and demanding action as Muslim girls as young as five were “increasingly veiled”.

Of course, evidence needs to be produced if this is the case. At my school no child wears a hijab and seeing as you can legally send your child to primary school in any clothes I am not sure Ofsted has a leg to stand on, unless they change the law – which of course could happen.

“This is an affront to the historical fight for gender equality in our secular democracy and is creating a two-tiered form of non-equality for young Muslim girls,” the letter said.

Explaining her decision to act, Ms Spielman said: “While respecting parents’ choice to bring up their children according to their cultural norms, creating an environment where primary school children are expected to wear the hijab could be interpreted as sexualisation of young girls.

I believe we should and can bring our children up with our, that is British cultural norms which no longer includes head coverings. If you wish to do that as an adult then great but not as a child.

“In seeking to address these concerns, and in line with our current practice in terms of assessing whether the school promotes equality for their children, inspectors will talk to girls who wear such garments to ascertain why they do so in the school.”

She urged parents concerned about fundamentalist groups influencing school policy or breaching equality law to complain to the school or to Ofsted.

Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Harun Khan said: “It is deeply worrying that Ofsted has announced it will be specifically targeting and quizzing young Muslim girls who choose to wear the headscarf. “It sends a clear message to all British women who adopt this that they are second-class citizens, that while they are free to wear the headscarf, the establishment would prefer that they do not.”

I don’t believe that this is the case because we are talking about primary school children NOT adult women.

He also said many British Muslims who wear the headscarf have done “extremely well” in education. “It is disappointing that this is becoming policy without even engaging with a diverse set of mainstream Muslim voices on the topic,” he said.

Mr Khan urged Ms Spielman to reverse the decision and said it risked being “counter-productive” to Ofsted’s promise to uphold British values.

It will be interesting to follow this.