Inspectors have criticized Feversham College in Bradford, UK, for only hiring female staff.
The 664-student Muslim state school was told by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) that male role models who interacted with students were important for the “all-female environment.”
Ofsted urged the school to ‘increase opportunities for the broadest range of positive role models, including men and male governors, to be part of students’ learning’.
According to the head teacher, the school was established “in response to parental demand for single-sex education based on religious beliefs” and that this policy was accepted in 2001 when the school had applied for voluntary-aided status.
Helen Fraser, CEO of the Girls’ Day School Trust, is siding with Ofsted. She writes for The Daily Telegraph that schools cannot argue for diversity in one area and not promote it in another.
Girls’ schools have long been at the forefront of extending opportunities for young women. We expect, quite rightly, that no doors will be closed to the girls leaving us at the end of their school lives this month and going on to university, or the world of work.
So it would be hypocritical in the extreme – not to mention incompatible with equal opportunities legislation – for us to argue that teaching, or senior leadership roles, in girls’ schools should be female-only enclaves.
According to Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools:
“We should all be concerned if a school is failing to encourage children to develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths and cultures or allowing governors to exert inappropriate influence on the curriculum or other aspects of school life.”
The inspection did offer the school praise for its “high ambitions” and “consistently high achievement over time”. The report concluded that the school did an excellent job preparing its students for life in Britain, and also that the school community is kept safe from all forms of bullying, including online. In response to the allegations of extremism, the report found the school to be aware of the issues and using the government’s “Prevent” strategy to combat it.
An inspection by Ofsted at Carlton Bolling College found suspicions of segregation of boys and girls within the school, as well as a narrowing of the curriculum.
Wilshaw has asked Ofsted’s regional directors to ‘respond swiftly to further concerns that are brought to their attention’. “What inspectors found in a number of schools in Birmingham is deeply disturbing,” he said.
The inspection comes on the heels of “Trojan Horse” allegations in Birmingham, where Tahir Alam was recently accused of being the ringleader of a plot to fire head teachers in an effort to force Islamic views onto the students. Ofsted recently placed five schools in the area on special measures after the schools were found to not be protecting its students from extremism, writes Laura Clark for The Daily Mail.
‘The tactics used at the school are reminiscent of those employed in Operation Trojan Horse, with governors constantly questioning decisions, school results and vociferous complaints from the community,” says one anonymous source at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College.
A former governor of Laisterdyke, Faisal Khan, reports having witnessed staff members being suspended there for “ignoring instructions from governors”.
The Department of Education is currently investigating Feversham’s employment policy as allegations of unlawful practices arise.