Launch of School Improvement Consultancy Service for Muslim Faith Schools

Jul 16, 2014 by

The last two decades have seen a rapid increase in the number of Muslim faith schools operating within the independent sector. Britain is currently home to over 150 privately funded Muslim faith schools, with this number set to grow still further given British Muslims are much younger than other faith groups, and hence are far likelier to be in full time education. The 2011 census showed Muslims have the youngest age profile of any faith group with one third of British Muslims being under the age of 16, as compared to 19% as a national average.

Independent, privately funded Muslim faith schools tend to operate on much smaller budgets and fewer resources compared to state funded schools. As a result, many such schools are unable to access or afford the external expertise and professional qualified consultancy needed to ensure a high quality educational provision, and in turn, rank highly in Ofsted inspections. With challenging new standards for independent schools already introduced by Ofsted, there is genuine concern that the independent Muslim school sector may not have prepared sufficiently.

The same judgements used in the framework for inspecting maintained schools, non-maintained special schools, academies and free schools on section 5 inspections will be applied when inspecting independent schools from April 2014.
The grade ‘adequate’ will be replaced with ‘requires improvement’. Requires improvement will signify that, even though a school may be meeting all the independent school standards, this is the minimum requirement. The school requires improvement to become ‘good’.

The current seven independent school judgements will be replaced with the five judgements made on section 5 inspections:
• Overall effectiveness
• Achievement of pupils
• Quality of teaching
• Behaviour and safety of pupils
• Leadership and management

The revised framework will be introduced in two phases. The first phase will involve the inspection framework for independent day provision only and will start from 28 April 2014. This will be followed by the boarding/residential provision framework from September 2014. In response, the Association of Muslim School, in partnership with 1st Ethical Charitable Trust is launching, from September 2014 God willing, a School Improvement Consultancy service, through the provision of dedicated School Improvement Partners (SIP), which seeks to equip Muslim faith schools with the skills needed to meet the stricter Ofsted standards at a viable price.

 

Pilot Phase
A pilot phase will be conducted over the course of the next academic year, commencing September 2014 with a maximum of fifteen selected institutes to ensure the quality of service required is test driven at the optimal standard. Once tried and tested, this service will be open to all Muslim faith schools, God willing, from September 2015.
The initial pilot will be limited to four full days of bespoke consultancy at each of the fifteen schools to be delivered incrementally over the academic year commencing September 2014. Schools currently designated as ‘high risk’ by Department of Education, or those who have an inspection due imminently will be given priority.
In recognition of the critical importance of this project AMS UK will personally identify five of the fifteen schools from its membership that they feel would benefit the most from this consultancy package, and additionally subsidise the majority of the costs involved for these five schools.

Ashfaque Chowdhury, chair of AMS commented “Privately funded Muslim faith schools will face major challenges in meeting the new Ofsted inspection requirements which are being rolled out over the next year or so, and AMS are providing a variety of services to help schools. One of these services is to partner with 1st Ethical’s School Improvements Consultancy Service, along with their Ilm 2 Amal enrichment service. These offerings have a vital role to play in equipping schools both to successfully meet the new Ofsted standards, and also to enhance the teaching of the Islamic faith in a modern context”.

Mohammed Akram Khan-Cheema OBE, an independent education management consultant for Ofsted, had the following to say regarding this new provision, “It is really encouraging to see that AMS UK and 1st Ethical are quite properly focussed on helping to improve the quality of educational service for children by taking this positive step together. I have no doubt that one day the authorities will recognise the real contributions that British Muslims are making towards improving the quality of life for all in the country we have adopted.”
In recent months, as covered extensively in the media, the Government has stressed the need to teach British Values in all schools, and many teachers and governors in the independent sector will consequently be expecting yet more changes to the Ofsted regime in short order.

Given there are more than 150 independent Muslim faith schools, and only 15 eligible places for the first year of service, we anticipate demand for the school improvement consultancy service to be very high. Should you wish to register your schools interest, please click here for more details.

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