London: UK is investigating up to 50 unregulated schools set up by Islamists that have many students from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Somali families, according to a media report here. The schools, some of which allegedly “subvert British values”, are based around the country, including Tower Hamlets in east London, Brent in north-west London, Birmingham and Luton, ‘The Sunday Times’ reported.
These schools avoid scrutiny because they operate outside the mainstream education system which is regulated by the UK’s Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted, the schools’ watchdog. Many of their pupils, including some from Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Somali families, have been taken out of mainstream schools to be taught at home.
Their education is supplemented in unregulated schools, where much of the teaching is around the Islamic faith. Officials fear children may be at risk of being radicalised in such tutorial centres. One of the schools, Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets, was shut in January after it was reported that it was being run by Mizanur Rahman, a convicted Islamist extremist who has claimed Taliban gunmen who killed 132 children at a Pakistan school were “unfairly demonised”.
Last month, UK home secretary Theresa May pledged that if the Conservatives were elected, they would act swiftly to review unregulated centres that gave grounds for alarm. Unregulated schools are set up as privately funded tuition centres to provide supplementary education.
By teaching for only a limited number of hours each day, they avoid being scrutinised by the DfE and Ofsted and attract the attentions of local councils only if they are in breach of safeguarding pupils. Ofsted said the subject of unregulated schools was a matter for the DfE, which declined to comment.