A problem no-one dares mention might be fears Muslim schools could become dominated by extreme Islamists. Such fears are nonsense as the Muslim community in Scotland wholeheartedly rejects religious extremism. If there were to be faith schools, Muslims have as much right as any group to run them.
To anyone with above-average knowledge of the history and contemporary reality of Islam, this kind of naivety is enough to bring tears to the eyes.
The truth is simple: Muslims are Muslims. Their behaviour is remarkably consistent across the world. The primary determinant of their behaviour is a single variable: how many Muslims there are in a given area in relation to the non-Muslims. As Muslim numbers increase, so does their aggressiveness. If Muslims in Scotland seem less aggressive than Muslims elsewhere, then, it is because there are fewer of them.
The Scotsman editorialist seems to have forgotten that two Muslim schools in Scotland were already shut down after severely critical inspection reports. One of these was the Iqra academy in Glasgow. The final inspection report before it was shut down can be read online here. The extracts below show clearly that the Islamic ethos had a negative impact on the education of the children. Girls were discriminated against, given a different curriculum from the boys. Inappropriate physical punishment was used. There was an emphasis on mindless rote learning of the Koran and languages that have no relevance to life in modern Europe, Arabic and Urdu. There was no proper instruction in physical education and pupils were largely shut off from the world.
In interviews, pupils raised issues which gave the inspection team cause for serious concern about their welfare. Most girls said that they did not enjoy being at the school. Most of the girls said that they had been bullied and none thought that they were treated fairly in school.
...The school had no policy for equal opportunities or for race equality, although it had aims in those areas. There was a lack of fairness in how the girls were treated. It was not only apparent in issues of ethos, but also in the more limited curriculum offered to girls.
...Child protection allegations of the use of corporal punishment and inappropriate sanctions by some staff were brought to the attention of the inspection team, who reported them to the appropriate agency.
...Morale amongst pupils was variable and was particularly poor amongst the girls. They were very unhappy, and stated that the staff did not listen to them and that they had no appropriate avenues for their complaints to be heard.
...The approach to the pastoral care of the girls was unsatisfactory. The girls were dealt with in a negative manner. Such an issue is a serious concern for the well-being of the girls.
...The school was not promoting a healthy lifestyle. Pupils were expected to stay inside the school buildings for significant amounts of time. Girls were not allowed out of the school buildings during the school day, and boarders were only allowed to leave the school premises for a short period at weekends. The girls only did yoga exercises for physical education. Overall, pupils were not being provided with sufficient opportunities to take exercise.
...The school gave a specific focus to Islamic education and related religious observance. All pupils were involved in daily prayers. Boarders were addressed at evening prayers about issues of moral and religious significance.
...There was a lack of opportunities for personal and social development. Opportunities for pupils to develop citizenship in the context of the twenty-first century, and to prepare themselves as British Muslims living in a culturally diverse society, were very limited. At the time of the inspection, pupils were not being given opportunity to mix socially with the community or with pupils from other schools. There were no extra-curricular activities.
..Between the two phases of the inspection the school decided to broaden the curriculum for boys, but not for girls, by introducing ICT and religious studies. PE was also added to the boys’ curriculum.
...The Islamic studies curriculum was similar to the curriculum which the teachers had themselves experienced at various institutions in England and overseas. It provided memorisation of the Quran and the first year of an Alim course for boys, a traditional six-year course preparing boys to lead prayers in the Islamic community. Understanding of the Quran would only be taught from year three upwards. Pupils learned Urdu and Arabic. This approach was in keeping with the school’s view of a traditional experience for boys. The Islamic curriculum for girls was also stated to be a traditional experience. While some of the texts were common for boys and girls, some of the girls’ material was less demanding, and their course was planned to be shorter. That unequal provision was contrary to the school’s declared aims.
...Overall, the secondary and boarding education provided by Iqra Academy was unsatisfactory. The welfare of the school’s pupils was not being suitably safeguarded. The learning and teaching provided was of a very poor quality. The ethos was unsatisfactory. The school was not meeting its stated aims. Management was ineffective.