students in a UK Madrassa

The opening of more Islamic faith schools should be stopped amid fears they will fuel social segregation, according to teachers.


Government plans to create more state-funded Muslim schools will divide communities along racial and religious lines, it is claimed.

They risk creating a situation similar to that in Northern Ireland where some educated teenagers fail to meet students of the opposite faith until they go to university, according to Voice, the teaching union.

In a speech to the union’s annual conference next week, one teacher will claim Labour’s policy to expand Muslim schools is “about trying to defend minorities”.

Last year, Ed Balls, the schools secretary, pledged to remove “unnecessary barriers” to religious groups bidding to open their own schools.

He said additional money would be made available to allow the hundreds of private religious schools to convert to the state sector. The move raised the prospect of more schools for faiths including Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, which have few schools of their own, despite representing significant minority groups.

Speaking at the conference, Wesley Paxton, a further education lecturer from Hull, will say: “More faith schools in 2008 is probably going to mean more Islamic schools.”

He adds: “As is often pointed out, there are already many schools with more than a 50 per cent non-white enrolment.

“What benefit will there be by emphasising difference, by removing what non-Islamic influences these people will have, and reduce their chances of having a balanced upbringing?

“For girls in particular, can you imagine a UK Madrassa being a hot-bed of liberty, co-education and having Cosmopolitan in the school library? I have a vivid imagination, which is why I never read horror stories, but I can’t envisage that. It has been announced [that] Saudi Arabia will not send female athletes to Beijing. Need one say more? No, we are all people, we all breathe the same air, we need fewer distinctions, not more.”

At the moment, there are just four state-funded Muslim primary schools and five secondaries – including two which opened last September. They educate almost 3,500 pupils.

In addition, there is one Hindu school, three Sikh schools, and 38 Jewish schools. England’s remaining 6,750 faith schools – around a third of the total number of schools – are all Christian.

Faith schools are increasingly popular with parents, with some even prepared to lie on application forms to make sure pupils get a place.

But they are often unpopular among teaching unions who have complained in the past that they “separate communities”.

On Tuesday, Mr Paxton will propose a motion to the union – formerly known as the Professional Association of Teachers – which will claim that the opening of new faith schools will be “divisive not inclusive” for communities.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said schools now had a legal duty to promote religious and race relations, which is vetted by Ofsted.

“Schools should be our breeding grounds for tolerance – one of the essential British values,” said a spokesman. “The citizenship curriculum encourages them to take an interest in their community and the wider world.

“Every school has a moral responsibility, regardless of the social or ethnic make-up of its pupils, to educate children so that they can live in, work in and enjoy our diverse society. That is why Ofsted will be inspecting schools on how well they promote community cohesion from this September.”


One Response to Muslim schools fuel segregation, say UK teachers

  1. Muslim Schools

    London School of Islamics is an educational Trust. Its aim is to make
    British public, institutions and media aware of the needs and demands of the
    Muslim community in the field of education and possible solutions.

    Slough Islamic school Trust Slough had a seminar on Muslim
    education and schools in Thames Valley Atheltic Centre. The seminar was
    addressed by the education spokesman of MCB. I could not attend the seminar
    but I believe lot of Muslims from Slough and surrounding areas must have
    attended. Very soon, the Muslims of Slough will have a state funded Muslim
    school but there is a need for more schools. A day will come when all Muslim
    children will attend state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim
    teachers as role model.

    Muslim schools are not only faith schools but they are more or less
    bilingual schools.

    Bilingual Muslim children need to learn standard English to follow the
    National Curriculum and go for higher studies and research to serve
    humanity. They need to be well versed in Arabic to recite and understand the
    Holy Quran. They need to be well versed in Urdu and other community
    languages to keep in touch with their cultural roots and enjoy the beauty of
    their literature and poetry.

    Bilingualism is an asset but the British schooling regards it as a
    problem. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not
    want to become notoriously monolingual Brit. Pakistan is only seven hours
    from London and majority of British Muslims are from Pakistan.

    More than third of British Muslim have no qualifications. British school
    system has been failing large number of Muslims children for the last 60
    years. Muslim scholars see the pursuit of knowledge as a duty, with the
    Quran containing several verses to the rewards of learning. 33% of British
    Muslims of working age have no qualifications and Muslims are also the least
    likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications. Most of estimated
    500,000 Muslim school-aged pupils in England and Wales are educated in the
    state system with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. Majority of them are
    underachievers because they are at a wrong place at a wrong time.

    Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual
    Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. There is no place for a
    non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school. As far as higher education
    is concerned, Muslim students can be educated with others. Let Muslim
    community educate its own children so that they can develop their own
    Islamic, cultural and linguistic identities and become usefull members of
    the British society rather than becoming a buden.

    We are living in an English speaking country and English is an
    international language, therefore, we want our children to learn and be well
    versed in standard English and at the same time well versed in Arabic, Urdu
    and other community languages. Is there anything wrong with this approach?

    It is not only the Muslim community who would like to send their children to
    Muslim school. Sikh and Hindu communities have started setting up their
    schools. Last week. British Black Community has planned the first all black
    school with Black teachers in Birmingham.

    Scotland’s first state funded Muslim school could get the go-ahead within
    months after First Munister Alex Salmond declared he was sympathetic towards
    the needs and demands of the Muslim community.

    Iftikhar Ahmad
    London School of Islamics Trust

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