Ofsted publishes report on safeguarding failures in east London faith schools
A report on seven schools in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, issued today by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), identifies a significant number of serious failings and urges these schools to make immediate improvements.
The Ofsted report follows a series of both routine and emergency inspections carried out in October 2014 in six Muslim schools and one Church of England school in east London.
The team of inspectors recorded a variety of failures to safeguard the physical and educational wellbeing of pupils. The list included incomplete statutory background checks on staff, inadequate changing facilities for physical education, and lack of showers in some schools. One school had to create makeshift changing room facilities in its dining hall.
The inspectors were concerned that many institutes had no protective measures to control physical access to the buildings. It was also found that none of them had adequate capacity to provide first-aid care for sick or injured pupils. Additionally, the institutions suffered from poor governance, failed to monitor pupils’ progress, and had to work with poor quality teaching aids and library facilities. One of them prohibited students from borrowing books, while another school library only stocked books written in Arabic.
The squad also uncovered that the schools placed intensive focus on developing understanding of Islam at the expense of other important areas of the curriculum. The institutions thus failed to properly prepare pupils for life in Britain.
The Church of England school inspection was prompted when Ofsted became aware of the school’s failure to monitor “Islamic extremism” in a sixth-form society. The school neglected to supervise media activities of the society, which included linking students to radical content through Facebook and YouTube.
In his report to the secretary of state for education Nicky Morgan, the Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote: “Given the evidence gathered from these inspections, particularly in relation to the narrowness of the curriculum, I am concerned that pupils in these schools may be vulnerable to extremist influences and radicalisation.”
Two of these inspections were carried out under the emergency provisions of the Education Act 2002 while the others were routine and part of the ordinary Ofsted reporting cycle.