Year on year the Muslim Directory schools section has seen an incremental, positive rise in the number of Muslim Schools operating within our community. This has reflected the general growth of the community, as well as the keen desire of parents, to have their children educated in an Islamic environment. Here they can safely learn and develop both their Islamic/British identity whilst pursuing their educational endeavours.
We were somewhat dismayed by the impromptu comments made by the head of Ofsted, Mr David Bell who “warned” that independent Muslim faith schools posed a potential threat to the cohesion of British society. Such controversial remarks unjustifiably targeted a specific set of schools which belong to a particular faith, based on somewhat tenuous evidence.
Quite rightly, one of Mr Bell’s colleagues who is a senior inspector monitoring these schools, insisted Mr Bell was expressing his ‘personal’ views – which were not shared by the rest of Ofsted. HM inspector Christopher Schenk said he regularly met head teachers at Muslim faith schools who point out that “tolerance and harmony are Islamic virtues and they want their pupils to appreciate and respect other cultures”. Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, Mr Schenk said: “When David Bell raised his concerns that independent Muslim Schools might pose a challenge to our coherence as a nation he was expressing his personal views and not speaking on behalf of those of us who inspect these schools on a regular basis”
Mr Schenk said it was not true that independent faith schools resist their legal obligations to promote tolerance and harmony. He said he was happy to voice his “disagreement” with the chief inspector publicly because Mr Bell encourages Ofsted staff to speak their mind “without fear of reprisal”. An Ofsted spokeswoman is then said to have countered that Mr Schenk’s article did not represent the views of the rest of the watchdog. Either way these types of remarks and views undermine inter-organisation relations and encourage uncertainty and discord.
During our engagements with Muslim Schools across the country, over the last 8 years, we have always observed a sense of vision, professionalism, dedication and adherence to relevant codes of teaching practice, by the staff and administration of the institutions in question. In reflection, the pupils and students are noted for their modesty, academic excellence, morality and upstanding manners towards all fellow citizens. We hope the rise of Muslim Schools continues and that the community at large supports and fosters all such seats of learning. To find a Muslim school please search our online database or alternatively for further information contact the Association of Muslim Schools on 0121 643 1915.