A Birmingham school is unlawfully segregating boys and girls – with boys given privileges and treated more favourably than girls, according to a critical Ofsted report.
Inspectors who visited the fee-paying Redstone Educational Academy last month found the Islamic-faith school teaches boys and girls in separate classes, despite being told over a year ago that doing so defied equality legislation.
The school, in Balsall Heath, was also openly favouring boys by giving them first choice of work experience options and by barring girls from some sports, claims the report.
Boys and girls take separate school trips, with the girls having to wear school uniform (Navy blue 2-Piece Jilbab purchased from school) on those trips while the boys did not.
One group of pupils told inspectors a member of staff, who has since left, had told them: “University is not for females.”
The report concluded: “Leaders are aware that segregating pupils by gender is unlawful and that they are in breach of the Equality Act 2010. They recently applied to open a separate girls’ school on the same premises but were unsuccessful.”
The school’s head Saadat Rasool disputed Ofsted’s findings and defended the segregation practices, which he said were in line with the Muslim faith of parents.
In the damning opening to its report, Ofsted inspectors ruled: “Pupils say that they feel safe in school, but they are not. Procedures are disorganised. Leaders do not ensure pupils get the help they need. Boys and girls are unlawfully segregated by sex for all school activities, except for weekly assemblies.
“Boys enjoy school more than girls. This is because they are treated favourably and have more privileges. Boys have more opportunities to play sport. They get to choose the places to go to for work experience first. Some of the girls told us that they do not like this. They said that this was not fair and they feel disadvantaged.”
The curriculum is narrow, lesson plans disorganised, and pupils are not challenged or helped sufficiently. From Year 9 there are no artistic opportunities in the school day, and all pupils study the same subjects to GCSE.
The report adds: “At the beginning of Year 11, pupils take tests in some subjects. If they do not pass the test, they are removed from the course. The removal of pupils from examination courses suggests that leaders are trying to make the GCSE examination results look better, without considering what is in pupils’ best interests . . .only those pupils who are likely to gain a strong pass can complete their GCSEs in subjects such as English literature, history and Arabic. Pupils told us that they were unhappy about this because it limits their options for college.”
And while all pupils study Islamic studies, they learn little about other faiths, including about festivals celebrated by other religions common in the local area. In its report, the inspectors also reported an exchange with a group of pupils: “A member of staff had told them that ‘university is not for females’. This member of staff has since left the school.”
The academy is led by head teacher Saadat Rasool and its listed proprietors are Redstone Educational Services Ltd, whose directors are listed as Ozak Cicek and Shabeer Majid.
A nearby Muslim primary school (overlapping personnel) also led by Mr Rasool, Greenfields Primary (Muslim day school for boys and girls, which is registered for 159 pupils aged five to 11) in Small Heath, is set to ending segregation for upper year pupils from tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan 7)) after being criticised by Ofsted on the same grounds in 2018.
“We have no intention of breaking the law,” added Mr Rasool. He said the school has formally applied for permission to operate separate girls’ and boys’ schools on the site but its application was still under review by the Department for Education. The website is set up as if this has already happened.