Islamic school rated 'inadequate' over offensive library books

Ofsted raises concerns about books at independent school that risk exposing pupils to 'racist and sexist ideas'

Mark Smulian


An independent Islamic girls’ school has been judged "inadequate" after inspectors found books in its library that could expose pupils to "sexist and racist ideas".

Ofsted rated the Tayyibah Girls’ School, in the London borough of Hackney, as "inadequate" – the same rating as after its previous inspection in 2016.

Today's inspection report says the school is "inadequate" for leadership and management, while personal development, behaviour and welfare "require improvement".

There were "good" ratings for both quality of teaching, learning and assessment, and outcomes for pupils.

Inspectors were alarmed by two books in the school library. One read: “So the Muslim woman does not seek work outside the home unless there is pressing financial need… or her community needs her to work in a specialised area such as befits her feminine nature and will not compromise her honour or religion.”

Books 'promote intolerance'

Another stated: “One day, a Muslim woman went to a market place owned by the Jews of Banu Qayanuqa. She was a chaste and modest woman… The Jews saw her and disliked the fact that she was chaste and covered.”

Inspectors said: “The books’ contents promote intolerance towards women and people of different races.

“Leaders’ inability to account for how the books came to be there increases the risk of pupils being exposed to this literature and undermines the positive work in pupils’ personal development.”

Inspectors said that despite the offensive books, pupils were taught about other faiths, participated in inter-faith activities with other schools and showed respect and tolerance for those who are different from them.

“Pupils’ access to the inappropriate books found in the library weakens this good practice,” Ofsted notes.

The report calls on school leaders to make regular checks on texts in the library, “ensuring that all staff are trained to recognise and understand the reasons why inappropriate literature should not be in the school and what to do if they find any”.

Ofsted's report notes that school leaders had responded appropriately to faults found in earlier inspections, but “do not build on their successes in a secure and sustainable manner to meet all the independent school standards [and] do not sharply focus on strengthening teachers’ skills”.

The school was found to have several strengths including that most pupils made good progress across all key stages, display good conduct and behaviour and attendance was high. Staff morale was also praised.

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Mark Smulian

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