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Blackburn Islamic TV probe school 'cleared' by Ofsted
GOVERNMENT inspectors have given Blackburn’s Muslim Olive Primary school a clean bill of health after an undercover TV documentary accused staff of preventing clapping and music in class.
In a report published today, regulator Ofsted said: “British values are promoted well and planning is clearly translated into practice.”
Film of staff members at the Tauheedul Trust telling an undercover reporter they believed clapping and music were discouraged at the Bicknell Street primary formed a key part in a Channel Four ‘Dispatches’ programme questioning the role of faith schools in Britain.
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They are addressed by the emergency no-notice Ofsted report into the school ordered by the Department for Education.
It highlights, ‘spontaneous applause from a year two class after two pupils acted out a scene from Pinocchio’.
The report also said: “Plans show frequent reference to the use of music, television, video and technology to bring pupils learning to life.”
Blackburn with Darwen council schools boss Dave Harling and Pendle Tory MP Andrew Stephenson said that the allegations of repression of clapping and music in the documentary had concerned them but the Ofsted inspection had put their minds at rest.
Blackburn MP Jack Straw welcomed the report, and those from two similar inspections of Tauheedul girls and boys high schools.
He said the Dispatches allegations about the Olive were ‘wafer thin and rebutted comprehensively by Tauheedul Trust’.
Mr Straw added: “I don’t approve of children being told not to clap or to an absence of music.
“The Ofsted report documents that inspectors saw children clapping and there’s lots of music in the school.”
The programme ‘Faith Schools Undercover: No Clapping in Class’ included secret footage of undercover reported ‘Rehana’ asking teaching assistants and teachers in the Olive staff room what was appropriate for Islamic education.
In a piece of footage of a counting exercise it appears one pupil claps and is told off by a member of staff.
Asking about a lack of applause and music in the school, she filmed staff saying they had heard people say that clapping was ‘a form of entertainment for Satan’ and music in school was discouraged as non-Muslim.
The programme revealed trust schools hosted lectures by three extremist preachers, including Mufti Ismail Menk banned from six UK universities for preaching same-sex acts were ‘filthy’.
The documentary about faith schools followed the ‘Trojan Horse’ controversy over alleged attempts to radicalise Muslim schools in Birmingham.
The Ofsted reports into the three schools all highlighted their commitment to the government and Blackburn with Darwen Council’s ‘Prevent’ strategy to stop Muslim young people being radicalised into violent extremism.
The Olive school report said: “Pupils study a wide range of subjects including religious education, life skills and citizenship.
“Themes connected to the curriculum such as Christian baptism and ‘Good to be different’ are introduced.”
The only priority for improvement was collating information about behaviour to look for ‘patterns occurring’.
The report into Tauheedul Islam Girls High School said: “Students are prepared exceptionally well for the next stage of their education and for adult life in Britain”.
The boys school inspection concluded: “Students are very well prepared to take their place in modern British society and embrace British values.”
Both schools were praised for their current vetting procedures on the suitability of outside speakers and had no recommendations for improvement from the Ofsted inspectors.
Coun Harling said: “The documentary raised questions, especially about clapping and music. Those questions are answered in the Ofsted report.”
Mr Stephenson said: “I think the Ofsted inspections answer most of the questions but I am concerned about the footage regarding clapping and music. This is an issue the school governors need to monitor.”
A Tauheedul Trust statement said: “Ofsted’s letters – which were compiled after forensic, no notice inspections across all of our family of schools triggered in response to Dispatches allegations - demonstrate that the regulator has no concerns whatsoever about any policy or practice at Tauheedul.
“They note and endorse the way children are prepared ‘exceptionally well for the next stage of their education and for adult life in Britain’.”