Writing to the Secretary of State for Education, MP for Bradford East, Imran Hussain expressed substantial concerns regarding the proposals and consultation process on out of school education settings, and urged the Secretary of State to review the situation.
Following the Prime Minister’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2015 on the Government’s intention to address what they saw as issues with supplementary schools, Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan MP has announced new proposals to register and inspect these ‘out of school education settings’, which she has put forward for consultation.
However despite being strongly pushed by the Government, there is considerable concern amongst many groups that despite not making explicit references to them, the proposals will specifically and unfairly target and single out Muslims and Madrassas for inspections. As a result, the proposals will risk community cohesion and cooperation by pushing faith institutions out of mainstream society and into a situation where they are under constant surveillance.
Concerns have also been raised by Mr Hussain in his letter about the suitability of Ofsted, the schools inspector, to carry out investigations into faith institutions as they lack the necessary expertise to carry out inspections of faith communities, a view echoed by many responses to the consultation which have been collated by the Muslim Council of Britain.
In light of these concerns, Mr Hussain has urged the Education Secretary to extend the length of the consultation on the proposed measures to ensure that a thorough and uninterrupted review of the proposals can take place.
Speaking on the Government’s proposals, Bradford East MP, Imran Hussain said:
“The decision for the Government to hold a consultation on such important proposals that lasts just six weeks, two of which were during the Christmas and New Year break when many leaders of all faiths and others affected by the proposals were enjoying time with their family, along with the possibility that the proposals could be introduced without proper debate, betrays their motive to keep the proposals as quiet as possible.
“The people and groups affected by the proposals deserve a proper consultation and debate, and therefore I have asked the Secretary of State to extend the consultation process and have meaningful dialogue with community groups, faith groups, local authorities and other partners.
“The proposals as they stand are being hurried through and many communities are rightly concerned, and therefore I would urge the Secretary of State to have a meaningful consultation and review the proposals.
“I have requested an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss these issues.”