Statement on the OFSTED inspection report published on 3 January 2017
Darul Hadis Latifiah School is extremely disappointed with the report just published by the OFSTED following inspection in October 2016. The school has progressed since the last inspection carried out in September 2013; however, the school’s considered evaluation of its work is that it still requires improvement in the light of the new inspection framework.
We are currently preparing a formal complaint to Ofsted about the way the inspection was conducted and judgements were made. While we accept that there were a few failings affecting the judgement on safeguarding leading to an overall ‘inadequate’ judgement, we have good reason to believe that the report is excessively negative and does not give an accurate picture of our students’ attainment and progress. Nor does it give an accurate picture of the overall quality of teaching, and of parents’ views of the school’s performance.
Darul Hadis Latifiah is a school that aims to educate British Muslim boys in the British National Curriculum addition to the Islamic sciences of Hadis, Fiqh, Qirat and Tajweed in an environment that prepares them to be model British citizens. Our curriculum offers English language and literature, mathematics, science, geography, history, citizenship, PE, Religious Education (where faiths other than Islam is taught), Islamic studies, Bengali and Arabic as modern foreign languages.
Every year, students finish their GCSE studies and move on to study ‘A’ Levels and other post-16 courses in local mainstream colleges and sixth forms centres. Some of the students stay here at Darul Hadis and continue their ‘A’ Levels studies in our school. We prepare all our sixth form students to apply and admit to British universities to complete their higher education.
To date, hundreds of our students have progressed to colleges and universities across this nation including LSE, Kings College, Oxford and Cambridge. Students have progressed to study various graduate and post-graduate programmes including law and pharmacy.
Our whole raison d’etre is to educate and guide British Muslim children into a path that makes them model citizens of this country who are not only learned about their faith but also responsible and alert to the needs and aspirations of the State and society in which they live. We are continuously striving to remain alert to and guard against the dangers posed by extremism whether it is borne out of mis-interpreting Islam or misguided reactions to world politics and military conflicts. We dispute the Ofsted inspectors’ judgement that we ‘have not carried out [our] duty with enough diligence to prevent pupils being drawn into situations which put them at risk of harm.’ We shall challenge their interpretation of our Prevent risk assessment in our complaint.
Students are taught about the fundamental British values and how they are expected to behave as British citizens through the PSHE and SMSC programmes. Our students mix with students from different backgrounds in the course of educational visits. Although they regularly mix with local students who attend other schools, these are majority Bangladeshi or other Asian minorities because this is the nature of the population in Tower Hamlets. The school is hardly responsible for this.
We also dispute the inspectors’ interpretation of preparing students for life in modern Britain and complying with the equality Act 2010 as regards gender. The school emphatically teaches students that in no circumstances should women, or other ‘protected characteristics’, be discriminated against. When parents place their children in our single-sex school, they do not expect the school to plan opportunities for their sons to socialise with girls. One of their motives is to safeguard their children from what they see as the dangers of teenage culture in our society dominated by permissiveness. Parents in other faith schools hold the same views and share the opinion that teenagers work best in single-sex schools. We are not aware that Ofsted inspectors have made the same judgement about other single-sex schools.
Our students do have some opportunities to mix with other school children, for example during school visits, workshops and the school charity day. The KS3 students are also taught by female drama teachers and the students have demonstrated very respectful attitudes towards them. The inspectors were shown evidence that the school promotes positive attitudes towards women across the curriculum, for example, through the Islamic subjects. The inspectors did acknowledge that this was the case but alleged that there was insufficient evidence of this in National Curriculum subjects. Our curriculum should be judged as a whole since it is the whole that defines our identity as a faith school.
The inspectors claim that they found an inappropriate book in our library. We dispute that was found in our library and that it constitutes inappropriate material anyway. The book in question is The Noble Woman by Aliyah Butt. ‘The author Aliya Butt works as a Senior Crown Prosecutor in the Midlands. Ms Butt was first inspired to write this book whilst she was training as a barrister. She took special interest in the status of women in Islam and learnt that the idea that Islam is oppressive towards women is a myth. On the contrary, women are highly respected and enjoy a dignified role in Islamic culture. This led her to explore why there is a gap between the reality and the popular concept of Islam. Her search to find the answer led to the compilation of The Noble Woman’ [book blurb]. The statement read by inspectors that ‘women must dress modestly’ describes the Qur’anic view of how Muslim women should dress in public. The same statement would apply to Jewish and Catholic women who adhere to the tenets of their religion. The school will take up this issue in its complaint.
As for the camera installations in the washing area, it is most important to note that this was not in the toilets. This camera was installed (single, fixed and focused on the communal washing area) in the general area of communal washing facility that we have in the school and that is used by students to perform their ritual ablutions (wudu) before prayers. This area is adjacent to the toilets which are separate, enclosed and individually locked cubicles. This camera was installed (single, fixed and focused on the communal washing area) after seeing the same being used in one of our local partner schools (a city academy) to ensure that students do not create too much mess when using water. This facility is used generally once a day in preparation for the lunch-time prayer when large numbers of students use it at once, hence the necessity to ensure that large volumes of water are used safely and sensibly.
The camera was removed at once when inspectors raised concerns with the school.
This school is steadfast in its efforts to prepare and present a clean environment for learning for all our children. We have both an in-house cleaner and out of hours contracted cleaners who come to clean the building every day after school. However, this is a grade 2 listed historic building in the middle of a park adjacent to a large public library. Mice are a problem that we cannot eradicate but manage through annual contracted services with the local council’s pest control services. Despite our best efforts, mice droppings do happen. These are cleaned as soon as they are spotted. The inspectors found small amount of droppings in the changing room that is only used occasionally and remains locked most of the time. They did not find any in the entire school space that is open and in continuous use during the week.
The school has no evidence at all that students would be given detentions if they were asked about sex and relationships. The school considers that this remark was made by a student as a quip and does not reflect the reality of sex education in the school.
The school’ governing body and the SMT are duty bound to re-examine all our policies and procedures in response to this disappointing inspection report. Some changes have already been made. We shall continue to strive for further improvement.
M Badrul Islam
Darul Hadis Latifiah School.