20 Nov 2014

Muslim faith schools ‘may be vulnerable to radicalisation’

Exclusive: pupils at six independent Muslim faith schools in east London may be vulnerable to extremist influences and radicalisation, an Ofsted inspection finds.

The report, due to be published on Friday, also finds a Church of England secondary school failed to safeguard pupils against Islamic extremism.

An Ofsted memo to the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan – seen by Channel 4 News – finds “serious concerns” over the seven schools in east London.

Ofsted also claims that the lack of a broad and balanced curriculum in the six Muslim schools was preparing pupils poorly for life in modern Britain. In all six schools, pupils’ physical and educational welfare were at serious risk, inspectors say.

‘Islamic focus’

The six schools, the report will say, focused intensively on developing Islamic knowledge at the expense of other important subjects on the curriculum.

In the six schools, inspectors noted very limited opportunities to learn about history and geography, other than those aspects relating to Islam.

Music, drama and art were rarely taught, and students were not given adequate opportunities to develop their creativity and aesthetic appreciation, the report found.

Five of the six independent schools are located in Whitechapel. The other independent school is in Stepney.

People linked to one of the Muslim faith schools told Channel 4 News that while there is room for improvement, they feel this is a witch-hunt from Ofsted looking for a new Trojan horse scandal.

‘Inadequate response’

Ofsted also carried out an inspection at the state-funded Sir John Cass Foundation and Red Coat Church of England secondary school in Stepney.

The report found the school’s leadership failed to respond appropriately to serious concerns raised about social media sites relating to the sixth form Islamic society.

Channel 4 News looked at the school’s Islamic society and found a dormant YouTube account from three years ago and a Facebook page advertising local radical preachers and charity events.

Ofsted also said behaviour and safety, leadership and management at the school were found to be inadequate.

Channel 4 News approached Ofsted and the Department of Education about the leak but they said they would not comment until the report is published on Friday.