England’s first state-funded Muslim secondary schools – that segregated boys and girls and had books promoting domestic violence and marital rape – is to be taken over by the Government.The Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham, which became state-funded in 2001, was put into special measures last summer after the pro-rape texts were found in the institution’s library and a child died from an allergic reaction.
In a report published in May, the inspector Ofsted also identified bullying, said the playground was chaotic, teaching was poor, pupils were not safe and some staff did not know what to do in medical emergencies. The school was given an “inadequate” judgment, the lowest ranking.
The damning report also criticised the school’s policy of segregating boys and girls, sparking a lengthy legal battle, which is still ongoing. The school attempted to suppress the report’s findings with funding from Birmingham city council.
The appeal court judges were asked last week to make a definitive ruling in the case. If Ofsted wins, up to 20 faith schools that teach boys and girls separately will be reinspected and may have to change their arrangements.
According to The Times, Amanda Spielman, chief inspector at Ofsted, has now said the school is to be taken over by an independent academy trust on the orders of the Department of Education.
“I am deeply concerned about the idea that total segregation of children within a mixed school is acceptable”, she told the paper.
“Segregating boys and girls in a mixed school feels as though it is depriving both boys and girls of a big part of the benefits of school.
“We have single-sex schools and I am not challenging that, but the idea that you have a mixed school, and yet you do not have social development, stimulation, all the things that come from mixing the sexes, makes me uncomfortable.”
Birmingham city council has said both it and Al-Hijrah’s interim executive board were “co-operating fully” with the Department of Education to find a suitable Academy sponsor for the school.