‘Outstanding’ London school accused of promoting extremists, enforcing segregation

‘Outstanding’ London school accused of promoting extremists, enforcing segregation
An ‘outstanding’ London secondary school is due to be placed in special measures, over concerns that it was not doing enough to protect its students from ‘extremist’ activities.

The issues raised by the schools watchdog investigation include gender segregation and the posting links to ‘extremist preachers’ on students’ social media pages.

Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat School, East London, is believed to have failed to monitor students in the school who were allegedly running an Islamic society that promoted a radical preacher on its Facebook page.

The preacher has not been named and the group’s Facebook page has been shut down.

It is unknown whether the society’s page was officially linked to the school, however.

The school has also been accused of enforcing gender segregation rules in its playground and at the entrances to the campus.

“The inspection reports have not yet been published so we are unable to comment on the contents, but what we can say is that when any issues in our maintained schools do occur, we have a strong track record of intervening swiftly and successfully to address them,” said Tower Hamlets Council’s Corporate Director for Education Robert McCulloch-Graham.

“We are working closely with Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) after their recent inspections and we will of course act on the findings of the reports. We will continue to work with Ofsted and the DfE to address any issues, potential or otherwise,” he added.

Britain's Chief Inspector of Schools Michael Wilshaw (Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett)

The downgrading of the school’s status comes as part of a wider investigation by the schools watchdog Ofsted, which carried out a series of unannounced inspections in Tower Hamlets schools. Ofsted is expected to publish reports on seven schools on Friday, which will include reports on a number of independent Islamic institutions.

Previously, Ofsted had rated the school ‘outstanding’ for its development of “excellent codes of behavior and respect for one another in and out of lessons.”

Ahead of the report, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said investigations into Tower Hamlets schools did not yield similar results to the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot in Birmingham earlier this year.

While the Redcoat School is run by the Church of England, 90 percent of its students come from ethnic Bangladeshi backgrounds, with the majority of its students coming from practicing Muslim households.

Headteacher Hydn Evans, who was awarded an honorary degree by the University of East London for his work to improve the school, told the East London Advertiser that the institution’s activities reflected the make-up of the community in Tower Hamlets.

“My school reserves only 18 percent for students of any Christian denomination, with 80 percent not Christian, reflecting the make-up of our community here in Stepney,” he said.