An academy trust that runs ten Muslim faith-based schools is set to take over three non-faith community secondaries in the north, Schools Week can reveal.
Last week the Tauheedul Education Trust (TET) was chosen as the preferred sponsor to turn around Highfield Humanities College, in Blackpool
The trust has insisted it has “no plan at any stage to implement a faith ethos”, but concerns have been raised locally in the town where only 0.7 per cent of the population is Muslim.
Today Bradford council has announced the trust will also take over two community schools: Tong High School and Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College.
Tong school is rated as inadequate by Ofsted and Laisterdyke had its board of governors removed by the local authority amid concerns of links to the Trojan Horse investigations.
Hamid Patel, chief executive of TET, said: “In each school we work with and sponsor we are committed to delivering excellence in education, providing a rounded curriculum and giving back to local communities.
“This is evident through the results we have achieved in TET schools … and the improvement we have supported for our partners.”
Of its ten Muslim-faith based schools that have been inspected, all four have been given the highest grade from the education watchdog. One school – Tauheedul Islam Girls High – topped the Schools Week’s GCSE league table of disadvantaged pupils’ performance in January this year.
TET has also run leadership programmes in more than 100 schools across the North West and worked closely with another five to help them achieve better Ofsted grades.
Governors at Highfield said TET was the “clear and outstanding” sponsor choice from three options on the table.
The trust has since written to parents to lay out its vision for the school – including assurances that the non-faith community status will be protected under the academy’s funding agreement with the Government.
But Jay Harman, campaigns officer at the British Humanist Association, said: “This latest example is part of a growing and worrying trend of religious organisations assuming control of schools that have no existing religious character, with more or less no input from parents or the local community.”
He said TET will be able to introduce its own religious education syllabus at any time and influence other parts of the curriculum, such as sex and relationship education.
The trust has reassured parents it is committed to a “broad and balanced” curriculum and pledged to follow the same religious education syllabus approved by the Blackpool Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said the trust is an “expert schools sponsor with an excellent track record of running high-performing schools”.
“This expertise will help transform the standard of education offered at Highfield Humanities College. The Trust’s focus will be on academic excellence and putting pupils at the centre of everything it does to result in more children receiving the education they deserve.”