'Community' pressured Muslim school to stop girls scuba diving

Al-Khair School rated ‘inadequate’ after Ofsted finds it unlawfully segregates boys and girls aged 11-16

Martin George

The Ofsted report says Al-Khair school faced pressure to prevent girls going scuba diving.

A private Muslim school in London has come under pressure from its community to stop girls doing scuba diving, Ofsted has reported.

The Al-Khair School in Croydon, South London, received an overall rating of "inadequate" after inspectors found it was breaking the law by segregating pupils by gender in its secondary phase.

However, the report, published today, praises the way the school responds when parents press it on a range of issues. 

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It says it offers a range of enrichment activities, including, golf, scuba diving, horse riding and archery.

However, the inspectors write: “Sometimes, school leaders come under pressure from the community about a range of issues, such as a desire to increase the memorisation of the Koran or to prevent girls from going scuba diving.

“The proprietor and leaders can explain clearly and honestly how they address parents’ concerns without changing their vision for the school.

“The proprietor describes this as ‘balance without compromise’.”

The report highlights the segregation of boys and girls in its secondary provision, an issue which has come to the fore following a Court of Appeal ruling about a state Islamic school in Birmingham in 2017.

Last week, Tes revealed that the DfE does not know how many schools are breaking the law on gender segregation.

Today’s report on Al-Khair says its “otherwise strong work” to promote pupils’ personal development “is impaired by the unlawful segregation by sex” between the ages of 11 of 16.

It says: “The boys’ department is located on the ground floor of the building, and the girls’ department is on the first floor.

“Boys and girls have separate entrances to the school. Pupils are segregated for classes and all other activities.

“The policy causes the following detriment to pupils: boys and girls cannot learn and socialise together.”

The school, which was rated "good" at its previous inspection, was this time judged "inadequate" overall, and received the same grade for the effectiveness of leadership and management, and early years provision.

It was "good" in two other categories, and told it "requires improvement" in another.

In a statement, the school told Tes it welcomed that report, and its comments about strong teaching, and pupils who were "polite, kind and respectful to each other".

It said: "The entire staff is committed to providing a balanced education for our pupils and we are pleased that our excellent enrichment programme has been recognised along with the pupils’ good conduct and outlook".

The school added that the overall rating was owing to segregation, but it was now splitting into separate boys' and girls' schools.

It added: "After almost a year-long preparation an application was filed for registration for a separate girl's school.  We are pleased to say that the girls' secondary school is now registered separately with the Department of Education.

"We are in process of separating both schools and will be working hard in coming months to make sure there is a smooth transition. We will then invite Ofsted to re-inspect the schools in order that the correct rating may be obtained."

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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