CofE school faces criticism in Ofsted extremist report

London borough of Tower Hamlets. Pic: N Chadwick

London borough of Tower Hamlets. Pic: N Chadwick

A Church of England school has been accused of failing to safeguard children from extremism in a leaked Ofsted report, after concerns were raised about a sixth form Islamic society Facebook page.

The report was leaked to The Independent this morning and will be released by Ofsted tomorrow morning at 9:30am. It will include six other schools in the borough.

Sir John Cass Foundation and Redcoat School in Stepney Way was inspected by Ofsted after suspicions of extremism, echoing the Trojan Horse investigation in Birmingham.

The school was previously rated as “outstanding” by Ofsted in May 2008. But after unannounced inspections, called for by the Department for Education, it is now expected to be placed into special measures.

The Facebook group, set up by sixth formers, is thought to be linked to radical preachers. The students also had their own YouTube channel which was not monitored.

Tower Hamlets’ director of education, social care and wellbeing Robert McCulloch said: “As a local education authority, we have no jurisdiction whatsoever over teaching and standards at independent faith schools. This is Ofsted’s area of responsibility. We do, however, have responsibility for safeguarding all children in the borough and have always exercised our safeguarding duties to the full.”

“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.”

Reverend Alan Green, head of the Tower Hamlets inter-faith forum, said: “The Ofsted rating is based solely on the school failing to monitor the social media output of the sixth-form Islamic Society. Whilst this is a serious failing – schools should have a robust safeguarding policy regarding internet use for all students, not just Muslims – Ofsted’s response seems exaggerated, and is fuelling another outburst of Islamaphobic ignorance and hostility towards the borough of Tower Hamlets.”

The school’s safeguarding policy aims to “promote the welfare of the children in [their] care [which will be achieved by] monitoring children who have been identified as ‘at risk’, creating an environment where children feel secure, have their viewpoints valued [and] are encouraged to talk and are listened to.”

Leave a Reply