Socialist Worker

‘Would Ofsted object to the Bible? They are dancing to Gove’s racist tune’

Islamophobic criticism of schools isn’t limited to Birmingham. Ofsted inspected Olive Tree primary school in Luton last month. Farasat Latif, the school’s chair of governors, told Socialist Worker why the report published on 4 June has caused a lot of anger

Issue No. 2408

“The inspectors ignored the fact that 100 percent of our children achieved average or above average in their Sats. 

Instead they attacked us on having too few books on other religions—read ‘Christianity’—and for failing to encourage pupils to respect the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance.

We gave ample evidence of how our school prepares children to participate as active members of British society. We cited assemblies on topics as diverse as tolerance, love for humanity, living in a multi faith society, law and order, and being British and Muslim.

Are emergency inspections to prevent and tackle discriminatory and derogatory language implemented in other faith schools? Is the government ensuring that schools are adequately tackling anti-Muslim bigotry? 

The Ofsted report summary refers to a book that contained ‘stoning and lashing’. There is a 400-page book in the staff library that has a paragraph containing the statement of the Prophet Muhammad regarding the punishment for adultery in an Islamic state. 

The book was providing information about a point of law in an Islamic state, and not promoting its application. 

We do not teach or promote this view in our school.

The inspectors have wrongly concluded that merely having a book in the staff library, inaccessible to children, implies that we are promoting this view.

The Bible states stoning to death for 18 different crimes and burning to death for a number of crimes. Would Ofsted object to the presence of the Bible on the basis that it promotes extreme views? 

We have an education secretary who supports Israeli apartheid preaching to us about the rule of law. And we are criticised, without any evidence, for opposing individual liberty and mutual respect, and tolerance.

The inspection and the subsequent report was not about education. It was about a right wing extremist, Michael Gove, whipping up racist hysteria and Ofsted dancing to his poisonous tune.”

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