The head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has issued a warning that in some independent faith schools, teachers are being segregated based on their gender.
In Rabia Boys’ and Girls’ School, in Luton, Ofsted inspectors were concerned to find that the teachers were being separated based on whether they were male or female, which resulted in the school remaining in the ‘inadequate’ Ofsted category, “despite improvements being made elsewhere”.
The inspectors found Rabia to be using ‘dividing screens’ to segregate the teachers, “actively undermining” British values.
Writing to the education secretary Nicky Morgan, Sir Michael said: “I am writing again to report that Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI) continue to find that staff are being segregated because of their gender in Muslim independent schools.”
“At the initial meeting with inspectors, the school insisted on segregating men and women through the use of a dividing screen across the middle of the room. This meeting was not carried out in a religious setting but in a classroom.”
“HMI also gathered evidence that male and female staff are segregated during whole school staff training sessions. Male staff sit in one room and the session is simultaneously broadcast to female staff in another part of the school,” he continued.
There are more than 300 students at the Rabia, which was set up in 1996, and they are aged from five to 16 years.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education (DfE) said: “It is completely unacceptable for women to be treated less favourably than men, and the advice note we have received from Ofsted on Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ School is extremely concerning.”
“We will consider carefully the inspection report on the school to determine what action to take against any potential breaches in the independent school standards.”