Muslim school accuses Ofsted inspector of walking into prayer area with shoes on

Cannon Hills Girls School

A Birmingham Muslim girls’ school has accused an Ofsted inspector of walking into a prayer area with her shoes on, despite shoe covers being available.

The accusation by Canon Hills Girls School came after the education watchdog published a scathing report rating the school inadequate.

A statement from the school said: “Our decision not to engage with one inspector during the inspection was as a direct result of unacceptable inspection practices and a refusal to respect and observe our religious customs.

“One inspector walked into our prayer room with her shoes on, despite shoe covers being available. It is an established custom in our faith not to enter such areas with outdoor footwear.

“We simply could not allow the dignity and respect owed to our staff, pupils and school to be eroded any further during the inspection and took the decision to raise our concerns with Ofsted’s helpdesk.

“Due to our serious objections to one of the inspectors continuing, Ofsted determined that the inspection would be concluded on the evidence collected up to that point.

“We have called for a further inspection to address the inherent issues with this inspection. Trustees and senior leaders are committed to meeting the independent school standards and to demonstrating compliance to our regulators.

“The current judgements do not reflect our school and we are comforted that our parents and the community share our growing concerns about Ofsted. We are all increasingly doubtful about being able to place any faith in inspection judgements.”

Ofsted has yet to comment on the school’s accusations.

Cannon Hills Girls School, which caters for 9-12 year olds, opened in 2018 and only has 21 pupils. School fees are £4,000 a year.

Ofsted inspected the school in November and a few weeks ago rated it “inadequate.” The watchdog said that leaders have not made sure that all of the independent school standards are met.

“During this inspection, leaders were unwilling to cooperate with inspectors. They prevented inspectors from collecting the full range of evidence that was needed to inform the inspection,” Ofsted said.

“School leaders withheld information about the wider curriculum. Inspectors could not confirm that pupils have access to a wide and rich range of educational experiences. Inspectors were prevented from gathering the full range of information about teaching that they needed. Inspectors were unable to consider the quality of education in subjects across the curriculum.

“Therefore, inspectors could not be confident that all pupils had the opportunity to learn and make progress in a full range of subjects. They did not have the evidence to determine whether the wider curriculum meets the ages, aptitudes and needs of all pupils. Inspectors were unable to talk to pupils about careers education…

“Leaders would not allow inspectors to see pupils’ work or meet with pupils to talk about the school’s provision other than at the very beginning of the inspection. This lack of access to pupils’ views and work means that several independent school standards are not met.”

However, Ofsted did acknowledge that pupils enjoy coming to school and feel safe and well looked after. It also praised the school for its provision in Mathematics and English, but said that other subjects were not covered “in enough depth.”

“Pupils respect the views of other pupils. They listen to adults and are welcoming of visitors. They are proud of their school,” the report said.

“Behaviour in the school is calm and friendly. Pupils get along well with one another. The school does not tolerate bullying. Pupils enjoy a range of visits to help them learn about different roles in society.

“Relationships in school are positive. Teachers know pupils well. There is a strong ethos of taking ownership of learning. This is valued by all staff and pupils. Pupils work hard and are interested in their studies.”

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