Muslim schools accused of 'undermining our society'
By Liz Lightfoot, Education Correspondent
David Bell, the chief inspector of schools, angered Muslim leaders yesterday when he accused many Islamic schools of undermining the coherence of British society.
The growing number of Muslim schools must adapt their teaching to ensure that pupils learned about democracy and the political institutions of this country and understand that there were other religions, he said.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/islam/1582-muslim-schools-accused-undermining-our-society.html
David Bell: the chief inspector of schools
"I worry that many young people are being educated in faith-based schools with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society," he told a London conference on citizenship.
The number of private faith schools has increased significantly since the Government indicated its willingness to extend state funding through voluntary-aided status to those run by minority faiths.
Last week Feversham College in Bradford, the first Muslim state school, topped the Government's secondary school value-added league table thanks to the progress of its pupils.
Mr Bell said he believed that it was right that parents should be able to pay for faith schools in a free and open society. But many Muslim schools needed to adapt their curriculum to help pupils "acquire an appreciation of, and respect for, other cultures in a way that promotes tolerance and harmony".
He said: "The growth in faith schools needs to be carefully but sensitively monitored by Government to ensure that pupils at all schools receive an understanding of not only their own faith but of other faiths and the wider tenets of British society.
"We must not allow our recognition of diversity to become apathy in the face of any challenge to our coherence as a nation. I would go further and say that an awareness of our common heritage as British citizens, equal under the law, should enable us to assert with confidence that we are intolerant of intolerance, illiberalism and attitudes and values that demean certain sections of our community, be they women or people living in non-traditional relationships."
Mr Bell said that many of the new faith schools were being opened by a younger generation of British Muslims who recognised that traditional Islamic education did not entirely fit pupils for life in modern Britain. But a significant proportion of others had been told that they did not meet the conditions for being registered as schools.Reference:: Sikh Philosophy Network http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/showthread.php?t=1582
Ofsted said that 175 private faith and special schools, of which 29 per cent were Muslim, had been told that they must improve their curriculum to qualify or continue to qualify for registration. Independent schools do not have to follow the national curriculum but they must show that they provide for "the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development" of pupils.
Dr Mohammed Mukadam, of the Association of Muslim Schools, said: "I challenge Mr Bell to come up with evidence that Muslim schools are not preparing young people for life in Britain when a higher proportion are going on to higher education to fulfil their role fully towards society."
Idris Mears, of the Association of Muslim Schools, said the failure to teach citizenship broadly enough was an issue only for seminaries which concentrated on the traditional teachings of Islam.