By Javier Espinoza – The Telegraph -12 Apr 2015
Nearly 50 unregulated schools set up by extremists are being investigated for being anti-British, it has been claimed.
Education authorities are looking into allegations that these schools impart teachings that go against British values.
Many of these schools were set up by a teacher embroiled in the Trojan Horse scandal that saw radical Muslims infiltrating school governing bodies in Birmingham, it was alleged.
Based around the UK – including Luton, Birmingham, and London, these schools manage to scape prying eyes by operating outside the traditional education system, it was claimed.
Many of the students have been pulled out of the mainstream education system, which is overseen by the schools’ watchdog, Ofsted, and the Department for Education (DfE), and are being home schooled without proper regulation or oversight.
Children of Somali, Bengali and Pakistani origins are thought to be at risk of being radicalised in their own homes, it was reported.
It is a criminal offence to run unregulated schools, which must be registered with the DfE. However, local authorities are responsible to make sure home schooling in their area is providing suitable education for youngsters.
Set up as private tutorial centres, unregulated schools find it easier to remain under the radar by teaching only a limited amount of hours per week.
It was reported the DfE has launched a number of investigations into the rising number of unregulated schools as some expressed concerns they are too easy to set up and are not being monitored properly to ensure they teach British values.
One of the schools at the centre of the controversy is Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets, which closed down earlier this year following revelations it was being run by a convicted Islamist extremist by the name of Mizanur Rahman. Mr Rahman allegedly claimed Taliban gunmen who murdered more than 130 students at a school in Pakistan were “unfairly demonised”.
An unnamed Whitehall official, quoted by the Sunday Times, said unregulated schools are led by people who are against “democracy, equality, and tolerance”.
“If you are a Salafi Muslim or an Islamist, that means you don’t believe in British values because they go against your ideologies and set of beliefs. The problem is anyone can set up one of these schools and there are no regulations for it and they can then go on to brainwash children,” the source was reported as saying.
The DfE refused to comment on the allegations.
Last summer, Michael Gove, then Education Secretary, announced that all schools would have to actively promote British values as part of the curriculum, following the Trojan Horse plot.
However, there have been recent calls for teachers to snub the rules on teaching the so-called fundamental British values. Robin Bevan, head of Southend High School for Boys, said last month that a specific emphasis on British values was not necessary as they were already part of a “broad and balanced curriculum”.
News of possible radicalisation of children in supplementary schools followed a pledge by Home Secretary, Theresa May, to act quickly to investigate unregulated schools that could be breaking rules if the Conservative Party was elected next month.
The reports also followed news earlier this month that as many as 100 teachers and teaching assistants could face bans from working in schools for life as their Trojan Horse links were being investigated.
A recent report by MPs said academies were at greater risk of Trojan Horse-style extremism because their expanded freedoms leave them targets of infiltration. The report called on education bureaucrats to be vigilant of “the risks of abuse of academy freedoms” and be quick to react when concerns are brought to their attention.