FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. What does your organisation do? We coordinate the work of Muslim schools in the UK and share best practice in advancing the education of Muslim children. We also act as an umbrella body for registered Muslim schools in the UK (156 in 2014), the majority of which (120) are affiliated to ourselves. These schools are mainly independent, 13 of the schools are state funded. We organise and arrange teacher training for schools and provide opportunities for schools’ staff to become professionally qualified in order to enhance their skills and career opportunities. We are officially recognised by the Department for Education (DfE) as representing the interests of Muslim schools in the UK. We also provide support to our members to help them flourish so that they can make positive contributions to the lives and well-being of children and young people. See the following link for more information on our work: http://ams-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/AMS-Brochure.pdf.
2. What do you for the wider community? We place a lot of emphasis on service to the local and wider community. Our members strive to ensure that they work with and serve children and families from faith and non-faith backgrounds through direct education provision, charitable activities and joint initiatives with other service providers. We also believe that our members have a key part to play in promoting better understanding and cohesion within their local communities. Our members work hard to engage with community groups of all faiths and none to share learning and experience of different cultures and faiths.
3. What are your views on gender equality? We believe in equality between men and women; there are a number of women in senior leadership positions in our organisation. We will not tolerate any form of gender discrimination that contravenes the law in any of our member schools. If any such case came to our attention then we would immediately take corrective action.
4. What are your views on discrimination of any type? We are against discrimination on any grounds. Our teacher training events and subsidies for professional qualifications are open to Muslim and non-Muslim teachers and school leaders and in the past many non-Muslim teachers have attained Qualified Teacher Status through AMS UK. We also oppose any form of hatred towards any group, however manifested, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia and racism. Again, if we became aware of any form of discrimination taking place in our member schools we would immediately take corrective action.
5. Are you aligned with any political party or political movement? No. We are not aligned with any political party or movement (in the UK or abroad) and we do not promote any partisan political views. In line with education regulations, our members are required to present political issues in a balanced way with all points of views being considered.
6. Do you give platforms to controversial speakers at your events? We have never knowingly given a platform to any controversial speaker. We take great care to ensure that all speakers at our events (e.g. our annual conferences) are suitable individuals and, as far as possible, we also vet all external speakers. All of our annual conferences have been attended by officials from the Department for Education.
7. What is your position on the Hijab? We support the right of girls to wear hijab, but we are against anybody forcing them to wear it. We expect all Muslim pupils at our member schools to dress modestly in line with their Islamic ethos. We strongly believe that everyone should have the freedom to practise their faith in the manner in which they feel most comfortable – and this is something we promote to our members.
8. What would you do if one of your member schools was found to be promoting extremism? We take all allegations of extremism very seriously and we would take action immediately. The media can be a useful source of information but we are aware that on some occasions the media has misrepresented Muslim schools and made unsubstantiated allegations. If an incident of this nature came to our attention then we would conduct our own investigation and also work with the relevant authorities.
9. How do you promote fundamental British values? We believe traditional authentic Islamic values as taught in the Qur’an and through the example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, are universal human values and can be found in many faiths and cultures, especially in fundamental British values such as democracy, the rule of law, mutual respect, tolerance, freedom of speech and freedom of association.
10. What is your vision for the future of Muslim children living in modern day Britain? We want Muslim children to be proud and committed British citizens. We want them to develop into self-assured, respectful, confident, happy and positive individuals. Muslim children are growing up in a Britain that is increasingly multi-cultural and we work hard to promote respect for all cultures and faiths to our members so that our children may flourish and be of benefit to the society that they live in. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him said; “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.”