OFSTED HAS admitted one of its inspectors made a “mistake” in not speaking to pupils during an emergency inspection of a Muslim girls’ school because the children were celebrating a religious festival.
The schools watchdog said it had taken “appropriate action” against the inspector following the unannounced inspection at the Zakaria Muslim Girls’ High School in Batley.
The inspector said he could speak only to senior managers, including the head teacher, at the independent school, which has 147 pupils aged between 11 and 16 and is run by members of the Deobandi sect, which teaches an orthodox view of Islam.
The report in October of last year found that the school was meeting Government requirements for safeguarding students on issues such as radicalisation and female genital mutilation.
But it also said: “It was not possible to talk to students during this visit as they and the staff were celebrating the festival of Eid.”
Ofsted have now admitted not speaking to students was a mistake. And that as a result the school, which was established in 1982 and costs up to £1,300 a year for day pupils, had to be reinspected.
She said: “We can confirm that an inspector failed to speak with students during an inspection of Zakaria Muslim Girls High School in October 2015.
“This was a mistake and we have taken appropriate action regarding the inspector.
“We carried out another inspection of the school in December 2015 and we are in discussion with the Department for Education about further monitoring of this school.”
Sky News reported that the school is one of three facing further action following an investigation it has carried out into the Deobandi sect.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “As soon as concerns were raised we launched urgent investigations and while these are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.
“Extremism has no place in our society and it is vital all schools are providing a high quality, broad and balanced curriculum.
“Where schools are not doing this and are focusing on ideological indoctrination instead, we will not hesitate to take action including closing the school or working with the police if necessary.”
The original Ofsted report from October 2015 said the unannounced emergency inspection was conducted at the request of the Department for
Education to check the school’s compliance with the independent school regulations relating to the safeguarding of students.
It said: “The school’s policies and procedures for safeguarding students meet requirements. The school’s safeguarding policy was reviewed and approved by the governing body in September 2015. It covers all the requirements outlined in the latest statutory guidance, Keeping Children Safe in
Education (July 2015), including the latest requirements relating to children missing from education, preventing radicalisation and female genital mutilation. The school’s leaders know that, from October 31 2015, they have a mandatory duty to report visually confirmed or verbally disclosed cases of female genital mutilation in girls under 18 to the police. Officers from the local ‘Prevent’ strategy are providing training and guidance for staff.”
The Yorkshire Post has contacted the Zakaria Muslim Girls High School to ask for a comment.
More to follow.