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Faith Schools: Islam

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families regarding how many Muslim schools OFSTED has raised concerns with his Department in the last five years. (185398)

Maintained and independent schools, including those designated as Muslim schools, are inspected by OFSTED on a regular basis. There are currently nine Muslim schools open in the maintained sector. Since 2005, when the-three year cycle of inspections was introduced, six have been inspected and all judged by OFSTED to be satisfactory or better in terms of their overall effectiveness. The other three were opened since September 2006 and will be inspected, as usual, in the second year of operation. In the independent sector there are 115 Muslim schools of which 83 have been inspected since 2003, with inspections at a further 18 schools scheduled this school term. The remaining schools were all opened since September 2003 and were inspected against independent schools standards before opening and will be inspected again in due course, as part of the three-year cycle of inspections which OFSTED will commence in the summer term. Inspection reports, which are published on OFSTED's website, provide an overview of provision in all inspected schools, detail of whether or not the statutory standards for independent schools are met where appropriate and include recommendations for improvement.

On one occasion OFSTED referred a specific concern raised with it about a Muslim school to the Department. The case was investigated and found to have no substance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what arrangements are in place for the inspection of independent Muslim schools. (185401)

All independent Muslim schools are currently inspected by OFSTED against standards set out in the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2003, as amended. These cover the quality of the curriculum and teaching; the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils; and their health, safety and welfare. Reports of independent school inspections are published on the OFSTED website.

The Bridge Schools' Inspectorate (BSI) has recently been approved in principle to undertake inspection of around 110 independent schools affiliated to the Christian Schools Trust (CST) and the Association of Muslim Schools UK (AMSUK). BSI inspections will assess schools against the same statutory criteria as OFSTED and its inspectors will also assess the religious ethos of CST and AMSUK schools. Any inspection work BSI carries out will be monitored by OFSTED, which will produce a published annual report on its performance.