BIRMINGHAM Councillor, Matt Bennett has called for the Al-Hijrah school in Birmingham to be closed following the row over its use of Islamic law, segregating by gender, and institutionalizing the subordination of women.
Local Tory, Matt Bennett, the city’s shadow cabinet member for education, called for Al-Hijrah School, to be shut down following the Court of Appeal ruling that the segregation of girls was “unlawful.”
In the landmark ruling, three judges backed Ofsted inspectors who said that the segregation of boys and girls breached the 2010 Equality Act. Ofsted also criticized the school for failing to uphold “British values.”
Councillor Bennett also said the affair reflected badly on the council-maintained school, the local authority, Ofsted and the Department for Education.
The school was placed in special measures in 2014. Its entire governing body was sacked the following year, after it emerged the school was £3 million in debt due to mismanagement of funds. The council is also investigating claims that the Trust running Al-Hijrah used £1 million of taxpayer cash to fund a new school in Pakistan.
The case came to court after Ofsted produced a summer 2016 report that found there was discrimination under equality laws.
“Ofsted’s job is to make sure that all schools properly prepare children for life in modern Britain,” said Chief inspector Amanda Spielman. “Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex, or for any other reason.”
“The school is teaching boys and girls entirely separately, making them walk down separate corridors, and keeping them apart at all times,” she added. “This is discrimination and is wrong.”
“It places these boys and girls at a disadvantage for life beyond the classroom and the workplace, and fails to prepare them for life in modern Britain.”
At an earlier hearing, judge Mr Justice Jay said books discovered in the school library clearly treated women “as subordinate to men”.
Bennett said: “The school has, to say the least, a tarnished reputation and, with it once again having been rated inadequate, it is beyond dispute that the council’s efforts have failed to bring about the necessary improvements.
“It really would be in the best interests of all concerned, not least the pupils who have been failed by the school and the council, if the school were closed down in a managed and orderly fashion.”