Islamic faith school ‘undermining British values’ by using dividing screens to segregate male and female staff

Rabia Girls' School, Portland Road, Luton. PNL-140624-113646001

Rabia Girls' School, Portland Road, Luton. PNL-140624-113646001

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Ofsted has failed an Islamic faith school which is segregating its male and female staff and has not sufficiently vetted guest speakers.

Inspectors from the schools watchdog ‘expressed concern’ when holding discussions with teachers from Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ School earlier this month, as leaders placed a screen between male and female staff to keep them apart.

Rabia Boys' School, Lincoln Road, Luton

Rabia Boys' School, Lincoln Road, Luton

During the unannounced inspection Ofsted also found that male and female staff are kept seperate during training sessions across the Luton school’s two sites – when training takes place on one site it is broadcast to the other over the internet.

The measures – which Rabia’s governors admitted are usual protocol – undermines the school’s work to promote fundamental British values, Ofsted said.

A report on the visit added: “These practices...do not demonstrate equality and respect.”

The finding has prompted Ofsted chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to write to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Sir Michael wrote: “HMI who inspected the Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ School in Luton expressed their concern when, at the initial meeting with inspectors, the school insisted on segregating men and women through the use of a dividing screen across the middle of the room.

“This meeting was not carried out in a religious setting but in a classroom.

“HMI also gathered evidence that male and female staff are segregated during whole school staff training sessions.

“Male staff sit in one room and the session is simultaneously broadcast to female staff in another part of the school.”

Sir Michael added: “This sort of behaviour manifested by the leaders of this school clearly does not conform to the spirit of the equalities legislation which underpins the spiritual, moral, social and cultural standard.”

During the visit inspectors also noted school leaders’ concessions that some guest speakers to Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ “have not been vetted with sufficient

rigour”.

Earlier this month it was revealed that a scholar who had previously addressed fighters of Jaish-eMohammed (JeM) in Pakistan, a proscribed terrorist organisation, was a guest at the school in 2013.

According to The Times Qari Hanif Jallundari told jihadists: “Tomorrow belongs to Muslims.

“We have to maintain a united front and frustrate the efforts of those who want to divide on the lines of jihadi and non-jihadi factions.

“In my view every Muslim is a mujahid.”

Rabia also invited Maulana Taqi Usmani to its graduation ceremony in 2013, a scholar who reportedly issued a fatwa against forces invading Afghanistan soon after 9/11.

According to Ofsted the school is now rigidly vetting its guests.

The report, published today, states: “Procedures for more rigorous checking of the background and views of guest speakers are now in place through a revised visitors’ policy.

“The school now checks the credentials and backgrounds of all speakers so that the safety of pupils is not put at risk.”

As a result of the serious concerns over leadership and management Ofsted has handed the school an inadequate rating.

The report comes nearly two years after the school’s last full inspection, in which it was failed for providing a curriculum which “only scrapes the surface of what it means to be a good citizen in Britain today”.

At that time inspectors found severe inequalities between boys and girls and the Department for Education promised ‘tough action’ if improvements were not made.

The DfE added: “Some of the things inspectors found are unacceptable in any modern school.”

After a follow-up visit in January 2015 Rabia was slammed by inspectors for design and technology teaching which limited girls to knitting and sewing.

Prior to the school’s most recent inspection, which took place between April 12-14, the DfE asked inspectors “to pay particular attention to the school’s promotion of fundamental British values and to what extent these are supported through teaching and the school’s curriculum.”

The Luton News has contacted Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ School for comment.