Last week Ofsted published the report of its recent inspection at the Olive Tree Primary School in Luton. Predictably, following the pattern we have seen in Birmingham, a school that had received a broadly favourable report from inspectors less than two years ago was now found to be “inadequate”.
Ofsted stated that some of the library books at the school contained fundamentalist views that had “no place in British society”. This produced inflammatory headlines such as “‘Tough action’ may be taken at Islamic faith school after inspectors find books which ‘promotes’ stoning, lashing and execution”.
The school has issued a furious rebuttal the Ofsted report, condemning it as “half-baked” and “highly politicised”. The statement added: “The inspection and the subsequent report was not about education, it was about a right extremist, Michael Gove, whipping up racist hysteria and OFSTED dancing to his poisonous tune.”
Farasat Latif, chair of governors at Olive Tree Primary School, has followed this up with a letter to the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw.
Dear Sir Michael Wilshaw
I am writing further to the OFSTED inspection dated 13-15 May 2014, and the subsequent report dated 4th June 2014.
It was stated in the report’s summary of findings that: Some books in the children’s library promote fundamentalist views which do not support the pupils’ development for life in modern Britain. Some of the views promoted by these books, for example about stoning and lashing as appropriate punishments, have no place in British society.
There are several books in our staff library, not in our children’s library, that do indeed mention stoning and lashing. These books, which are inaccessible to children, provide information about the application of law in a theocracy, not in the UK. These books do not promote or condone its application as lawful in a UK context. We do not teach or promote this view in our school, and the inspectors did not find any evidence to the contrary.
In light of the above, I am seeking guidance whether the following books should be removed from our staff library. The books in question are:
1) Child Education in Islam. This book contains one reference regarding stoning, and one reference regarding lashing.
2) The Holy Quran. This contains two references regarding lashing for slander and for fornication, and two references regarding amputation for theft and for highway robbery.
3) The Holy Bible. This contains eighteen references regarding stoning for a number of different crimes including adultery, sodomy, witchcraft and blasphemy amongst others. Please refer to the Catholic Encyclopaedia for a full list of punishments.
I am of the view that the above named books should not be removed from our staff library, as the punishments mentioned within them should not be taken in the context of UK law. However I would welcome further clarification on this point. I look forward to hearing from you.
Chair of Governors
10 June 2014