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Creationists and religious hardliners found to be inspecting private Christian and Muslim schools

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has today called for the Bridge Schools Inspectorate (BSI) to be investigated and if necessary scrapped after the Sun on Sunday found that a number of the individuals carrying out inspections on its behalf hold creationist, homophobic, misogynistic, and anti-apostate views. The BSI inspects private schools that are part of either the Christian Schools’ Trust (CST) network or the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS).

One board member of the BSI is creationist Sylvia Baker, author of Bone of Contention, who is listed as a ‘Core Team member of CST’ (although in fact she recently resigned). Another is David Freeman, ex-Chair of the CST. The CST has a statement explaining that it is creationist and recommending the teaching of creationism in its member schools.

The Sun on Sunday also found that inspectors include Ibrahim Hewitt, who believes that adulterers should be stoned to death, and has compared gay people to paedophiles.  He is also chair of a charity that the US has claimed is ‘a global terrorist entity’ – although it is legally allowed to operate in the UK. A BSI trustee has also been quoted as saying that Muslim apostates should be stoned to death. And finally another inspector is Tahir Alam, who has been at the centre of allegations related to Park View Academy in Birmingham, the school which has been the focal point of the ‘Trojan Horse’ investigations.

The BSI is one of three independent inspectorates that inspect groups of private schools and are in turn inspected by Ofsted. Another, the School Inspection Service, inspects Exclusive Brethren and Steiner schools.

The Government is currently consulting on the regulations and advice surrounding these inspectorates, and is proposing to make changes such as requiring that all inspectorates inspect ‘schools that do not have an ethos associated with a specific religion or belief’ (which the BSI does not), and requiring the inspectorate and inspectors be independent from the schools they inspect. The BHA will be responding to the consultation.

Richy Thompson, BHA Education Campaigns Officer, commented, ‘We are deeply concerned to hear that individuals with creationist and alleged extremist views have been inspecting private schools. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child gives children the right to receive basic knowledge about science and to be prepared for life in a diverse, tolerant, and inclusive society. How can we ensure that children’s rights are being upheld if the school inspectors themselves hold pseudoscientific or extremist beliefs? The Bridge Schools Inspectorate needs to be investigated and if necessary scrapped, and the schools concerned should be inspected by Ofsted itself through a more robust framework that holds private schools to the same standard as state schools.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson at richy@humanism.org.uk or on 020 7324 3072.

Read the Sun on Sunday’s article: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/5620445/Convert-Muslim-hardliner-working-as-school-inspector.html

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on countering creationism: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/countering-creationism

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/schools-and-education/faith-schools/

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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