The British government is set to award an Islamic education trust that forces students to wear the hijab as part of its school uniform a grant of £millions to teach other schools to achieve the same tests results it currently does. The trust’s schools in the North of England have also been slammed for “fixing” inspection results, hosting a hate preacher, and taking a hard-line approach to “un-Islamic” imagery and behaviour.
The Tauheedul Education Trust in Lancashire– “a sponsor with an excellent track record in running schools” – is one of five trusts named by the government today within its new National Teaching Service announcement, as one of the organisations that will benefit from the massive investment. The money is being used with the aim of “driving up standards in schools across the north of England where historically performance has been poor”.
But the Islamic Trust was only recently implicated in forcing its own students to wear the hijab – a cultural and religious symbol that many in the United Kingdom remain uncomfortable with. In 2010 a YouGov poll found that “67% either agreed or strongly agreed with a British ban” on the burka, though that covers more than the hijab.
The trust, which runs ten Muslim faith schools across the North West of England, has been the subject of an expose by the Sunday Times concerning the demand that female students wear the Islamic headscarf “outside the school and home”, as well as having attracted media attention for a hardline approach to pupils dancing at school.
Last year video footage emerged showing staff members at the Tauheedul-run Olive Primary School claiming that “clapping and whistling” were “Satanic” acts.
Channel Four’s ‘Dispatches’ investigation found teaching assistants talking in the staff room claiming that clapping and whistling are un-Islamic and ‘Satanic’, that music should be banned as non-Muslim, that the wearing of ties is forbidden in Islam as they could turn into serpents on the ‘Day of Judgement’, and that gay people should be ‘stoned to death’.
Tauheedul governor Coun Khonat responded: “Whatever may be said in staff room gossip is not reflected in what goes on in the classroom.”
And while the trust has consistently achieved “outstanding” ratings during independent investigations, concerns have been raised that the schools intentionally “fix” the results by recruiting only from well-off backgrounds. The Mirror reported in 2013: “Government figures show that only 8.7% of its pupils are entitled to free school meals while the local average is 30%. Headteacher Hamid Patel disputes the figures, saying 20% of pupils – which is still well below the local average – is a more accurate number.”
In April 2013, pupils at the school were harshly dealt with after a YouTube video emerged showing girls engaging in the “Harlem Shake” online trend/meme. The Lancashire Telegraph reported: “A dozen 12 and 13-year-old Tauheedul Islam Girls High School students were viewed 12,000 times hip-thrusting and jumping on toilet seats during the five days it was online.”
Again, governor Coun Khonat took to the press, stating: “This could not have come at a worse time. The school is of a strict Muslim faith and Mr Patel is very disappointed in the girls. He is determined to get to the bottom of what has gone on. I think the girls have let themselves down. It’s saddening but we are dealing with children here. The girls work very hard and there has never been an incident like this at the school before. Hopefully everything will get back on track.”
The girls school also faced criticism “for inviting Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, a controversial Saudi cleric, to speak” and the Sunday Times reported that the trust banned students from bringing stationery to school that had “un-Islamic images”, like pictures of Western celebrities, on it.
The school has now reportedly rescinded its demand that students wear the hijab at home as well as at school, and Department for Education officials are said to believe the schools and the trust have reformed.
It is not clear how much of the £5million grant the Tauheedul Trust will get, as it is in the running with four other local trusts. A Department for Education spokesman told Breitbart London that the details would come to light in due course.
The spokesman said: “Tauheedul Education Trust is an expert schools sponsor with an excellent track record in running high-performing schools. All of its schools inspected so far are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, and it runs one of the highest performing schools in the country in terms of the progress made by pupils. This expertise will help transform the standard of education offered at schools in Bradford and Greater Manchester.
“Tauheedul’s master funding agreement includes a condition that it will recognise and support the individual ethos of schools in the trust – be that faith or non-faith – safeguarding the secular character of schools.”