Schools in Birmingham have been segregating students illegally, discriminating against non-Muslims and limiting the GCSE syllabus so it complies with conservative Islamic teaching. The Telegraph reported that inspectors from the Department of Education found some Christian pupils in three schools were being compelled to sit at the back of the class while an extremist preacher was invited to address the students.
Park View School and its sister branches Nansen and Golden Hillock are reportedly practising discriminatory sex segregation in an attempt to “Islamise” an otherwise secular environment. Apparently, core elements in the standard GCSE syllabus were left out for being “un-Islamic” while an extremist preacher who sympathizes with Al Qaeda and has anti-Semitic views was invited to speak with the children.
The report classified as “official-sensitive” reveals inspections that were carried out at these schools in March after allegations of radical Islamists trying to indoctrinate students surfaced in a leaked letter. The operation named Trojan Horse aims at stirring up Muslim parents to expel secular teachers. Chairman of Park View Educational Trust, Tahir Alam, was named in the letter for being the center of this plot.
While the leaked letter substantiates most of the claims made against the schools, Alam denied the allegations, labeling them as “Islamophobic, fictitious and part of a witch-hunt.” However, during an inspection, officials from the Department of Education found that boys were made to sit in the front of the classroom while girls were forced to sit at the back and near the sides.
The school maintains that separation of the sexes was voluntary but the letter says, “Students told us they were required to sit in places which they were given by teachers.” This kind of segregation violates the Equality Act, as it is less favourable for girl students. The letter also suggests there were completely separated teachings held in separate rooms for certain subjects and the minority Christian and non-Muslim students faced discrimination on a regular basis.
Students at the schools told the inspectors that the biology teacher delivered a brief explanation of the theory of evolution but told the students, “This is not what we believe.” In addition, topics such as body structure and menstruation were left out in class despite them being part of the GCSE examination.
Even though all three schools are supposed to be secular, the inspectors found that the schools were not particularly welcoming of students who belong to other faiths or have no faith, with all students being urged to begin and end every lesson with a prayer and loudspeakers being used to announce prayer times across the school.
Apart from discriminating against non-Muslim students and wrongfully revising the GCSE syllabus, the letter also said that the non-Muslim headteacher was marginalized and female staff members at the schools were treated in a dismissive way. In fact, the school’s management is believed to have recruited close relatives, who do not have sufficient teaching experience or qualification, to manage key leadership posts at the school.
In reality, all three schools were run by Alam, who played an inappropriate role in the functioning of the schools and also received an undeclared four-figure payment for serving as a consultant, the letter says. The contents of the letter were disclosed as Tristram Hunt, shadow education secretary, prepared to attack the schools’ attempts to impose religious values in a secular environment.
While speaking at the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers) Union Conference, Hunt said, “We cannot have narrow, religious motives which seek to divide and isolate dictating state schooling. We cannot have headteachers forced out, teachers undermined, curricula rewritten and cultural or gender-based segregation… Indeed, it is more important than ever in a modern, multi-cultural city like this one that schooling serves to unite, not fracture communities.”
A spokesperson for Park View Educational Trust said, “This is a confidential draft report which the trust is entitled to respond to within a given timescale and it should not have been made public. We are extremely disappointed that our entitlement to confidentiality has been breached and we will not comment any further.”
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