Sunday, November 07, 2010

British schools regulator praises Islamic schools which oppose Western lifestyle

And they're not backing down

Ofsted and the Charity Commission are today accused of "whitewashing" hardline Islamic schools which are helping to radicalise a new generation of young British Muslims. An investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has established that the education watchdog has published positive reports praising Muslim schools for their contribution to community cohesion — even in the case of a school which openly states that Muslims “oppose the lifestyle of the West”.

The Ofsted inspector responsible for many of the reports, Michele Messaoudi, has been accused of having links to radical Islamist organisations. This newspaper can reveal that another recent Ofsted inspector, Akram Khan-Cheema, is the chief executive of a radical Muslim educational foundation, IBERR.

Its website describes Islamic schools as “one of the most important factors which protect Muslim children from the onslaught of Euro-centrism, homosexuality, racism, and secular traditions”.

Ofsted has also passed the inspection of dozens of Muslim schools to a new private “faith schools watchdog”, the Bridge Schools Inspectorate, which is co-controlled by Islamic schools’ own lobbying and trade body, the Association of Muslim Schools. The Bridge Schools Inspectorate allows Muslim head teachers to inspect each other’s schools.

Among the schools directly inspected by Ofsted was the Madani Girls’ School, a private Islamic school in London’s East End. Its Ofsted report, written by Mrs Messaoudi, said it made pupils “aware of their future role as proactive young British Muslim women” and left them “well-prepared for life in a multicultural society”.

However, the Madani Girls’ School’s own website openly states: “If we oppose the lifestyle of the West, then it does not seem sensible that the teachers and the system which represents that lifestyle should educate our children.” It says that under western education “our children will distance themselves from Islam until there is nothing left but their beautiful names”.

Last month, this newspaper revealed how girls at the school were being forced to wear the Islamic veil, a fact that was not mentioned in its 2008 Ofsted report. The Madani School declined to comment last night.

Ofsted also inspected the Tawhid Boys’ School in Hackney, north London. Its Ofsted report, written by Mrs Messaoudi, said the curriculum was “good … broad and balanced in Key Stages 2 and 3”. However, the school’s prospectus says that the curriculum is kept strictly “within the bounds of Sharia [Islamic law].” Its art syllabus bans pupils from drawing human beings, animals and objects that Islam deems “unlawful”. The school did not return calls.

Mrs Messaoudi also wrote the Ofsted report cited by Ed Balls, the then schools secretary, as “clearing” schools run by supporters of the racist, extremist sect Hizb ut Tahrir. The schools, the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation establishments in Haringey, north London, and Slough, Berks, received more than £113,000 of public funding and became the subject of national controversy after being exposed in The Sunday Telegraph.

One of the Foundation’s trustees, Farah Ahmed, who is also headmistress of the Slough school, wrote a chapter in a Hizb ut Tahrir pamphlet attacking the National Curriculum for its “systematic indoctrination” of Muslim children “to build model British citizens”. She criticised “attempts to integrate Muslim children” into British society as an effort “to produce new generations that reject Islam”.

She described English as “one of the most damaging subjects” a school can teach and attacked fairy tales, saying that these “reflect secular and immoral beliefs that contradict the viewpoint of Islam”. She also attacked the “obvious dangers” of Shakespeare, including “Romeo and Juliet, which advocates disobeying parents and premarital relations”. Mrs Messaoudi’s Ofsted report on the Haringey school said it was “satisfactory.”

However, an earlier Ofsted report by a different inspector, only seven months before, had described the school as “inadequate” and had said “more could be done to promote cultural tolerance and harmony”.

The Charity Commission also investigated the school after The Sunday Telegraph articles. It ruled that there were no concerns over the public funding, saying that since the main Hizb ut Tahrir trustee, Yusra Hamilton, had resigned, it was “not necessary for the commission to examine further the impact of her being a trustee”.

However, Mrs Hamilton only resigned after being exposed in this newspaper, and was a trustee of the schools at the time the public money was paid. She continues to work with children as a volunteer at the Haringey school.

Mrs Ahmed has confirmed that she was a member of Hizb ut Tahrir, and refused to deny that she still shared its views.

“This report is deeply intellectually dishonest,” said Hannah Stuart, of the Centre for Social Cohesion think-tank, which has closely investigated Hizb ut Tahrir. “You can clearly see that they knew exactly what went on, yet bent over backwards to cover their own backs.”

The Charity Commission said last night that it had found “no evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir ideology was being taught at or brought into the school”.

Mrs Messaoudi has written a book published by the Islamic Foundation, Britain’s foremost centre of Islamist intellectual thought.

According to the website of the hardline Islamist “Global Peace and Unity” (GPU) conference, both she and Mr Khan-Cheema were judges for its education awards held last week. GPU is organised by the Islam Channel, a digital TV station which hosts a number of fundamentalist and extremist presenters. A number of extremists spoke at the GPU event, though moderates also appeared, and items glorifying terrorism were on open sale there. Mrs Messaoudi was also listed as a judge for the 2008 GPU awards.

Mrs Messaoudi declined to comment last night. However, Ofsted, speaking on behalf of Mrs Messaoudi and Mr Khan-Cheema, said they were both “experienced professionals and we have no reason to doubt their ability in conducting inspections”.

It said Mrs Messaoudi’s clearing of the Shakhsiyah school was in a report “specifically designed as a follow-up to ensure that the school had undertaken the improvements required as a result of our first inspection”.

Nord Anglia Education, which employed Mr Khan-Cheema on contract to Ofsted, declined to comment.

Sources said Mrs Messaoudi had criticised some Muslim schools for Ofsted and her judgments of the Madani School were not wholly uncritical. Ofsted said its inspections generally were “thorough, rigorous and methodical”.

Many Muslim schools, however, are not inspected by Ofsted at all. Within the past two years, the watchdog has passed the scrutiny of many private “faith” schools to the Bridge Schools Inspectorate, a joint venture between the Christian Schools’ Trust and the Association of Muslim Schools.

Unlike “mainline” Ofsted inspections, which are carried out entirely by professional inspectors, BSI inspections of Muslim schools are often done by a team of three which always includes one head teacher of another Muslim school.

The BSI report into Bury Park Educational Institute, a mixed but gender-segregated Muslim secondary in Luton, claims that “the quality of education is good” even though the report itself admits that girls at the school get less teaching than boys.

“Some aspects of National Curriculum subjects are in a few respects currently less for the girls than for the boys,” it says, and there is not yet “full, equal access to National Curriculum subjects” between girls and boys.

Girls, says the report, are sometimes denied the opportunity for PE, “which they say they miss”. There is no suggestion that Bury Park teaches separatist views or opposition to British society.

One of the BSI inspectors who wrote the report into Bury Park, Ibrahim Hewitt, is chairman of the controversial charity Interpal, which is banned in the United States having been accused of supporting the terrorist group Hamas.

Interpal insists that it does not support Hamas and the Charity Commission has cleared Interpal. Mr Hewitt is also a headmaster of a Muslim school in Leicester and a senior member of the ruling “shura”, or executive committee, of the Association of Muslim Schools.

Mohammed Mukadam, a spokesman for BSI and also chairman of the Association of Muslim Schools, said: “All our inspections are led by former HMIs [professional inspectors]. "The conflict of interest argument would be valid if our head teachers were leading the inspections, but there is no conflict of interest. Our schools tell us that BSI inspections are much more rigorous than Ofsted’s.”

On behalf of the AMS, he admitted: “There are some schools which are actively opposed to certain British values. But a new generation of schools is coming in with a better understanding of the British context.”

Ms Stuart, of the Centre for Social Cohesion, said: “A whole generation is being brought up to at the very least suspect, and perhaps even despise, the society they will have to live in. This is deeply worrying for the future of community cohesion. “By whitewashing these schools, Ofsted and the Charity Commission are being negligent in their responsibility to protect children in their formative years.”


Students at a US university are being offered a course in the pop singer Lady Gaga‏

Mathieu Deflem, a sociology professor at the University of South Carolina, is adding a course title "Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame".

The synopsis for the course reads: "The central objective is to unravel some of the sociologically relevant dimensions of the fame of Lady Gaga".

Prof Deflem, 48, who has met the singer, real name Stefani Germanotta, on a number of occasions, said: "We're going to look at Lady Gaga as a social event. Other people say that Gaga's the new Madonna. I see it more like there's people who have this very individual thing. Frank Zappa had it. Prince had it. Miles Davis had it. Jimi Hendrix had it. And Lady Gaga has it."


Australia: Single-sex classes gain momentum as schools opt to segregate

EDUCATION experts say the trend of single-sex classrooms for young students is gaining momentum and works, but the State Government has left the matter up to principals as the debate heats up in primary schools.

Parents at Milton State School are rallying against a proposal to segregate students into gender-specific classes next year – a program that has been on trial in other state schools for some time.

But the State Government keeps no centralised data as to how many schools across the state are trialling the program, nor its success in those schools.

Opposition education spokesman Bruce Flegg yesterday called on the Government to monitor the scheme more closely and move away from such an "ad hoc" approach.

Education Queensland defended the dearth of centralised data, saying decisions about same-sex classes were best made at a local level.

Single-sex classes are being run at Miami State School on the Gold Coast, Earnshaw State College at Banyo and Victoria Point State School. In all of these schools, parents have the option to keep children in mixed-gender classes.

Victoria Point State School has had single-sex classes for about 10 years. Its principal, Lex Bowden, said same-sex classes consistently achieved better academically. "We also get (fewer) problems with behaviour," he said.

Griffith University education expert Alan Edwards said single-sex classrooms had gained in popularity recently across Australia and the US. "The theory about boys and girls learning differently has gained momentum," he said. He said feedback, generally, was positive.

Miami State School has also had boys-only classes for three years. Next year, principal Anthony Green is considering adding a 4/5 boys-only class.


No comments: