Private schools

Faith school which segregated staff finally shut down

Rabia Boys and Girls School in Luton was accused of “actively undermining” British values by Michael Wilshaw in 2016

Rabia Boys and Girls School in Luton was accused of “actively undermining” British values by Michael Wilshaw in 2016

14 Oct 2021, 17:50

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A fee-paying religious school which segregated staff and treated boys and girls unequally has finally been shut down, seven years after inspectors first slammed wide-ranging failures.

Rabia Boys and Girls School in Luton was accused of “actively undermining” British values by ex-Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw in 2016.

Inspectors found male and female staff divided during training sessions, and two years earlier found girls could not study certain subjects.

The Muslim school has repeatedly failed to meet independent school standards with multiple “inadequate” ratings.

The DfE eventually banned Rabia from taking more pupils in 2018. But a year later Ofsted discovered it was flouting the ban, and was forced to take legal action.

Magistrates then fined the Rabia Education Trust and its chair last May. New chief inspector Amanda Spielman called it an “unprecedented conviction”, which “sends out a strong message”.

Yet earlier this year Rabia’s website said it would continue offering secondary schooling from September.

Now the site says it is finally closing. It still plans tuition services, resources and support for parents to home educate, however. It says children in the local community have the right to gaining “key skills to succeed whilst embracing our Islamic faith and culture.”

The school has previously accused Ofsted of an “agenda against faith schools”, and said it was addressing concerns.

Ofsted’s website also says the school has shut. Its phoneline rang out when contacted by Schools Week.

A spokesperson for Humanists UK, which opposes faith schools, called for a tightening of the law, saying it had “serious concerns” the closure had taken so long.

The trust behind the school has also been on the Charity Commission’s radar since 2012. A 2017 inquiry found mismanagement, with a second probe launched last year and regulators imposing new management in March.

A spokesperson for the regulator said it would publish an inquiry report once it concluded, but it could not comment on active inquiries.

The DfE also confirmed this week two other north London faith schools, Bnois Jerusalem Girls School and TTD Gur School, have been banned from enrolling new pupils over wide-ranging failures.

A DfE spokesperson said safety and education were “paramount” and the closure reflected Rabia’s failure to improve. It vowed to work with families to ensure children’s continued education.

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