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Sectarian papers found by Ofsted at Islamic school in Walsall

Walsall | News | Published:

Sectarian material was found at an independent Islamic school in Walsall during an emergency inspection by the education watchdog.

Ofsted said the material discovered in a store room at Abu Bakr Boys School on Kent Road during an unannounced visit on September 27 was a cause for 'concern'.

Sectarianism is a form of bigotry or discrimination between different groups, including people of different religious or political beliefs.

According to a damning Ofsted report, the school's headteacher Mohammed Ramzan told inspectors the material was among items 'donated' to the £1,700-a-year school and intended to get rid of it.

The Department for Education, which regulates independent schools, is now embroiled and is considering what action to take.

Ofsted's report said: "Inspectors found published sectarian material in a store room in the school, which caused them concern.

"The headteacher explained that the material was there because he was in the process of sorting through books and literature donated to the school.

"He said he became aware of the material at issue the day before the inspection and had planned to dispose of it. Inspectors did not find evidence that the sectarian material had influenced teaching and learning in the school.

"However, material of this kind has no place in schools and leaders had not ensured any such literature had been prevented from entering the school and being accessible in a store room."

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Elaborating on the nature of the material the inspectors said: "Inspectors did find sectarian published material in the school but did not find evidence that partisan political views are promoted through teaching or extra-curricular visits."

As a result of the discovery inspectors declared that Abu Bakr was not doing enough to promote British values.

They said: "Leaders are not actively promoting the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.

"This is due to a lack of teaching about respect for others, an absence of pupils' knowledge of the protected characteristics and the existence of sectarian material in the school."

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Ofsted concluded the school, which can accommodate up to 300 boys from the ages of 11 to 16, was not meeting a number of required standards overall stating there were also 'significant weaknesses' in teaching.

They noted further failings in safeguarding, saying inspectors walked into the school 'unchallenged' and declared bosses took too long to reply to Walsall Council, which had requested information on a pupil that had left.

Additional criticisms were that the school did not encourage pupils to have respect for each other and that there was a lack of up-to-date career guidance.

And although the watchdog was not required to assess the premises they noted 'very poor condition and smell' of the toilets in the school's main entrance.

The report added: "As a result of a number of significant weaknesses in teaching, safeguarding and pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, none of the leadership and management standards are met."

Although Ofsted stated that the sectarian material had not influenced teaching, the Department for Education issued a statement saying: "Where we find schools promoting twisted ideologies or discrimination in classrooms, we will take action, including closing the school or working with the police as necessary.? We are considering what regulatory action is appropriate."

Walsall Council confirmed it was also in talks with the Abu Bakr Trust, which runs the school.

A statement said: "We are supporting and monitoring the school, having met with the Trust to discuss the outcome and we're in constant dialogue with them, as we would with any other school, in line with our agreed protocol."

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