One of the Government’s justifications for bringing private Islamic schools into the public sector is that they will then be forced to embrace the national curriculum. We are told that it will be easier to oversee them. Any of them that are promoting a top-heavy or fanatical religious agenda will be brought into line.
The NSS has predicted that as soon as these schools are brought into the state system, they will start to demand exemptions from the National Curriculum or even that the National Curriculum be re-written to take into account their cultural “needs” (see here for full details of what those “needs” might be). We are assured by the proponents of these schools that this will not happen.
But then, we are told all kinds of things by enthusiasts for religious schools. For instance, when the Madani Islamic High School in Leicester put itself forward to receive state funding, there were objections from the local population who thought it would endanger community relations. An adjudicator was brought in to rule on the objections and was reassured by the school’s founders that they would take a ten per cent quota of non-Muslims in order to encourage “community cohesion”. The adjudicator believed them, and said in his report, that approved the school: “One further tangible expression of the school’s inclusiveness lies in its commitment to reserve 10 per cent of its places for non-Muslim pupils.”
Well, the school is now open and the ten per cent promise has gone by the board. Madani’s head teacher, Mohammed Mukadam (who also happens to be chairman of the Association of Muslim Schools), said this week that non-Muslim pupils will only be accepted once demand from Muslims has been “exhausted”. But as there were 400 applications for the 120 places in year seven this September, all pupils will be Muslim.
The silver-tongued Mr Mukadam, you may remember, said on the Moral Maze programme last year that any non-Muslim girl that got a place at the school would be required to wear a veil. He now says that this is not the case. He will never have to prove that he means this, because no non-Muslim girls stand a chance of getting a place. And how many would be applying, anyway? And what about the Muslim girls at the school? They will be forced into hijabs and jilbabs whether they want them or not.
Mr Mukadam told the Leicester Mercury: “In principle, there’s no problem. The Government allowed us to establish a school to provide for Muslim schoolchildren first and foremost.”
Peter Flack, of the National Union of Teachers, which had resisted the establishment of the school, hit the nail on the head when he said: “We were told one thing, then they achieved their objective and it all changed.”
Well, Mr Flack, we confidently predict that this is only the start.