An Islamic faith school which has been referred to the equality commission for ‘undermining British values’ has said that that is it being “unfairly targeted” by Ofsted.
On Wednesday Ofsted published an inspection report in which Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ School, in Luton, was slammed for segregating its male and female staff.
Inspectors from the schools watchdog ‘expressed concern’ when holding discussions with teachers earlier this month, as a screen was placed between male and female staff to keep them apart.
During the unannounced inspection Ofsted also found that male and female staff are kept separate 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 findings prompted Ofsted chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, to write to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan with his concerns that the measures “clearly do not conform to the spirit of the equalities legislation”.
The Department of Education subsequently referred the case to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, for it to consider if the school has breached the Equalities Act.
Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ has now written to Ms Morgan, expressing concern that it is being “unfairly targeted” by Ofsted.
The letter states: “It is inaccurate that the school insisted on segregation as the female management staff placed the screen there before the male management staff arrived, as the meeting was on the girls’ site.
“They didn’t insist on it and even crossed the screen onto the other side during the meetings.
“It was used because all in all six of Her Majesty’s inspectors over the last 15 months have witnessed a screen being used at our school but failed to mention to us that it went against fundamental British values.
“It’s unfair to penalise us on an issue that six of Her Majesty’s inspectors were not sure went against fundamental British values because had they been sure they would have failed leadership and management during their inspections but didn’t.”
It adds: “We would like to say that we feel that we are being unfairly targeted and harassed by HM Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw who has undermined the professional reputation of six of his own inspectors who did not fail us previously or during this inspection for using a screen in a religious setting.
“We are absolutely shocked that someone of his standing has written such factually inaccurate statements about us.”
As well as referring Rabia to the EHRC, the Department of Education has said that it will scrutinise the Ofsted report to “determine what action to take against any potential breaches in the independent school standards”.