Who are Tauheedul Free Schools?
Tauheedul Free Schools is one of a number of related organisations under the Tauheedul Islam Faith, Education and Community Trust (TIFECT) umbrella.
TIFECT set up the Tauheedul Islam Girls' High School in Blackburn as an independent secondary school in 1984. It was financially supported by the Tauheedul Islam Mosque. It became a voluntary aided school within Blackburn with Darwen in 2005. Its current admissions policy gives preference to children with a connection to the Tauheedul Islam Mosque and three other named Mosques. These share Deobandi Hanafi values, one of the most common denominations of Mosque in the UK, with establishments in Walthamstow, Leyton and Leytonstone.
The much newer Tauheedul Islam Boys School in Blackburn opened last September, and is a faith-based Free School operated by the Tauheedul Free Schools Trust. This proposal was not supported by the Local Authority.
The boys and girls schools are over-subscribed. According to an article in the Guardian from earlier this year, there is only one non Muslim pupil at the boys school.
The Tauheedul Free Schools Trust also plans to open two faith-based primary schools in September 2013: The Olive School Blackburn and the Olive School Hackney.
These have been given approval by the Department for Education.
There is also an organisation called TS Academies or TSA. Although it has the same address and visual branding, TSA has dropped the name Tauheedul. TSA plans to run non-selective, non-denominational academies. Their governing council includes a set of people who work as education consultants and a set of names associated with the existing Tauheedul schools.
Witton Park High School in Blackburn will be the first academy sponsored by TSA – their governors voted for this in March.
TSA is already a partner in the National Challenge Trust that operates Blackburn Central High School (formerly Blakewater College). Mufti Hamid Patel, the principal of the girls’ school, is Chair of Governors at Blackburn Central.
Tauheedul now propose to open a Muslim secondary school for girls in central Walthamstow. This will be called Waltham Forest Leadership Academy for Girls.
Waltham Forest Leadership Academy for Girls: A lack of transparency and
From the start, Tauheedul’s proposed Free School has been characterised by a lack of transparency.
Details of their proposals are still not on their website.
Our Community, Our Schools wrote to Tauheedul asking them what consultation they had undertaken to date and what plans they had for consulting in the future.
Their reply said:
“we have been actively working with members of the local community for over 18 months. During this time, we have engaged in a regular dialogue and consultation with a whole range of individual and community stakeholders, including the Local Authority and local residents. We have taken on board their comments, aspirations and concerns in developing our proposal for the 'Waltham Forest Leadership Academy for Girls' that is currently being considered by the Department for Education.”
No details of any meetings, discussions or of any way in which the comments, aspirations and concerns had been registered or addressed have been given.
The Tauheedul consultation document says that: The Tauheedul Free Schools’ Trust has consulted widely with the local community to arrive at a curriculum that reflects the aspirations of young people and their parents’ They have as yet provided no evidence of any specific activities that formed this consultation.
Tauheedul’s consultation states that they want to work with local schools to deliver vocational training.
Yet they have not been in contact with any of the local schools to even see if this is possible.
The consultation period for the Hackney school was just 6 weeks from press release to close, and had a single public meeting 4 days after the press release:
The consultation period for Waltham Forest’s proposed Free School is 10 June – 19 July, yet there was no public announcement. As of 5th July, well over half way through the consultation, it’s not even on their website.http://www.tauheedulschools.com/press-releases.html This does not constitute a genuine consultation.
Impact on other schools:
In addition to concerns about the impact of competitive Free Schools on our local community, we have concerns that are particular to Tauheedul’s proposed Muslim Girl’s school.
We are concerned at the possible impact on the gender balance of other community schools.
Tauheedul’s consultation states there is parental demand for a girls' school. Yet Walthamstow already has one girl’s school (the borough of Waltham Forest has two).
Another girl’s school in Walthamstow will further skew the gender mix of the surrounding co-educational schools in favour of boys and they risk becoming de facto boys’ schools.
Boys' schools are rarely popular. The danger is that those who can afford to move away will do so at an even greater rate than they do now, and those left behind, and that includes Muslim boys, will find themselves in more challenging schools.
We are also concerned that a Muslim faith school will produce division and segregation.
While Tauheedul’s consultation document says that they intend to take in a proportion of non-Muslim pupils, there are indications that their schools in Blackburn have failed in this aim.
The Girl’s school Principal Mufti Hamid Patel was quoted in 2010 saying: “Come back in five years and I guarantee [we] will have white families”. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/muslim-school-helps-out-secular-neighbour-2129777.html
A year later he said: “Come back here in 10 years and ask me if we have non-Muslim pupils - the answer will be yes."http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6081589
There is also some indication that Tauheedul schools in Blackburn have generated concerns about their inclusiveness within the Blackburn Muslim Community, favouring a particular religious and ethnic also ethnic group:
We think that if Tauheedul genuinely want to contribute to the Big Society as an aim, it would be better to open a mixed secular school, where everyone is genuinely welcome.If we and our children are going to learn to respect, appreciate and understand one another, we need to educate our children together.
Waltham Forest already has many faith schools and single sex schools. We believe that more single sex faith schools will be extremely divisive in Waltham Forest.
Make your voice heard by responding to Tauheedul’s consultation document by 19th July here: http://www.walthamforestlag.co.uk/downloads.html