Segregated Islamic school could scrap secondary classes
THE illegal segregation of boys and girls could mean a failing Islamic school in Birmingham ditches secondary education.
Dozens of pupils who currently attend the city council-funded AlHijrah in Bordesley could have to find new schools while a number of staff are also set to lose their jobs in the shake-up.
The Interim Executive Board (IEB), currently in charge, has proposed reducing the age range from four-to-16 years to four-to-11 years by September next year.
It would stop provision for Years 7 and above, turning Al-Hijrah, which currently has more than 750 students, into a primary school.
Ofsted rated the school ‘inadequate’ in 2016 due to its controversial segregation of older pupils by sex. The council subsequently took court action arguing it was being held to a different standard to other schools across the country with similar arrangements around girls and boys.
But the Court of Appeal judged that the segregation by sex was in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and ordered the school to stop the practice.
The plans also involve relocating to a remodelled site on Waverley Road nearly two miles away which is the former annex to Small Heath School. Al-Hijrah itself would become a sponsored academy and be renamed.
Though the proposal is only in the consultation stages, parents of Year 6 pupils have been told to apply to other schools in the current admission round.
The council is also working up a separate proposal to establish a new single-sex school for girls with an Islamic ethos by next September.
A joint letter from head teacher Arshad Mohammad and Julie Young, chair of the IEB assistant director at the council, said: “We appreciate this may be an unsettling time for families but we are confident that our proposals will ensure children at AlHijrah receive high quality education with an Islamic ethos.”
The council-appointed IEB stated the move would help address the ‘serious issues’ at Al-Hijrah.
Regarding staff, they said: “The IEB recognise that change can be unsettling and that there may be challenges along the way.
“It is likely that there would be an impact on staffing levels. Any staff reductions or changes to terms and conditions would be subject to full consultation with the trade unions and teaching associations.”
Councillor Ken Wood, (Con, Sutton Walmley and Minworth) shadow education and skills boss, has criticised the Labour-run authority over its handling of the situation. He said: “The story of Al-Hijrah school is a sorry one in which the students have been the unfortunate victims of governor and council mismanagement.
“Last year, after the school and the council failed in an expensive and ill-judged court action, the Conservative group on the council stated that it would be in the best interests of the pupils if it were closed down in a managed and orderly fashion.
“That is effectively what is now happening but with another year lost, more money wasted and more importantly another year of these children receiving an inadequate education.”