West Europe

Backlash over ‘unnamed’ UK muslim school where pupils are segregated

Khalid Mahmood, member of UK Parliament for Birmingham
Khalid Mahmood, member of UK Parliament for Birmingham

British politicians this week criticised a legal decision which has allowed a strict Islamic school to be unnamed while it tries to ‘quash’ a critical report by school inspectors.

The school was judged inadequate by inspectors earlier this year but is mounting a legal challenge after inspectors gave it an ‘inadequate’ rating and criticized its gender segregation policy.

Critics claimed that there was a double standard. Two Christian schools which faced negative inspections were both named and shamed.  The case also follows a recent ‘trojan horse’ controversy in which hardline Islamists attempted to ‘take-over’ a number of state schools.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith has banned British media from naming the school it can only be described as ‘School X’ until the official judgement is published in the case. The judge said that publicity in the case would generate a media storm and raise tensions for parents. If the court finds in the school’s favour the secrecy order could be imposed indefinitely.

Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Khalid Mahmood expressed alarm about secrecy. “If you are sending your child to a school, you as a parent have a right to known what is going on. These steps might be taken if it’s a matter of national security or there is a risk to an individual’s life but this does not apply here.”

An inspector told the court that the Ofsted inspectorate had found that pupils themselves objected to the segregation policy. He said they felt it “was having a negative effect on being prepared for life in modern Britain’.

The school, which is in receipt of public funding is for ages four to 16 and separates from the age of 10.