Attendees: Jan Bradburn, Manchester City Council; Munira and Waddah Alsusa, Manchester Arabic School; Mohammed Hasan, Samodon Trust; Ornette Clennon, MEaP/MMU
Supplementary School Attendance of the Consultation
– Following on from our initial consultation with civil servants from Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (see here), we wanted to organise a wider consultation with our supplementary schools in Manchester.
– Based on our wider consultations (tonight’s meeting and next week’s), we intend to write our proposal and collective feedback under the auspices of Manchester City Council and send it to the civil servants as part of the national consultation process.
– Jan said that perhaps our schools are unaware of how the implications of the green paper could affect them.
– Jan said that the spectre of regulation and the prospect of funding could have some profound implications for our schools.
Integration Green Paper
– We discussed the Integration Green Paper and the Out of Hours School Settings paper.
– Jan said that she did not think that regulation was the way to go because she thought that it would encourage Local Authority surveillance of our schools.
Voluntary Code of Conduct
– Jan said that MCC already has a voluntary code of conduct.
– Jan said that she was concerned that Islamic schools and Madrasas were being drawn into regulation because they regularly provide the 6hr threshold of delivery.
– Jan feels that supplementary schools are being prepared for regulation, despite the feedback to the out of hours provision consultation.
– Jan wants to see more voluntary code of conduct; Quality Mark and MCC training.
– Jan said that she was concerned about regulation coming in through the backdoor.
– We discussed the last paragraph of the out of hours settings section of the integration green paper.
– We thought that it exaggerated the safeguarding issues.
– We thought that this could endanger the trust and relationships that have been built with schools.
– Jan said that goodwill is the basis of a relationship of trust between the Local Authority and the communities and feels that regulation could force schools to go underground, as good will evaporates.
– We felt that BME schools are being targeted.
– Jan said that she would enquire if MCC could join the Home Office funding scheme (like the one Bradford Council uses)
– Jan said that eligibility would depend on how much a concern the schools within Local Authority registration, were.
– Jan wondered if MCC were to get the Home Office PREVENT funding would this engender suspicion of being spied upon within the schools. Any strings attached with the funding?
– Jan also wondered whether if the funding came with the impression that its recipients were under investigation, whether this would affect uptake and participation.
– Jan said that she would like to use the funding for training and school policy development.
– Ornette wondered if the “concern” could be reframed to wanting to make sure schools had adequate support for teacher training and safeguarding needs.
– Jan said that the PREVENT funding would come through the Communities department in the Council and wondered whether it would be possible to access some of it for supplementary education.
– We discussed how funding is needed for schools to put everything in order in terms of governance and policies.
Supplementary Schools as Community Hubs
– Ornette suggested that if supplementary schools were ‘rebranded’ as community hubs that ran educational activities, our schools might be a better fit for Communities funding.
– So we discussed what proposals we could put forward for this funding.
– Funding for training and grants to develop projects around community cohesion?
– Mohammed discussed how Madrasas contribute to keeping young people off the streets with worth while activities.
– We discussed how the government did not seem to appreciate educational activities outside of mainstream provision.
– Mohammed said that it could be a good thing for supplementary schools to diversify their activities to deliver other community services.
– Jan suggested that supplementary schools often operate as substitute youth services.
– Mohammed said that Muslim communities needed to ask themselves more about what services they are providing for their wider local communities.
– Mohammed said that some Muslim communities are isolated.
(My reflection: In applying for project funding could we not make training a mandatory requirement of accessing project funds. Quality Mark training and teacher training (L3). Teacher training or cultural competency training would be good to consider as managing a community cohesion project could be part of the teacher training/cultural competency programme)
Community Cohesion and Differences
– Mohammed said that our supplementary schools had to work together more as a team, in so doing showcasing our multicultural potential.
– Mohammed said that within Muslim communities there are many traditions coming from the many nations whose populations observe Islam. Mohammed said that projects around inter-traditional understanding should be considered.
– Mohammed said that barriers between Muslim communities need to be broken down.
– Ornette asked whether funding would be given for that. Jan said no because Muslims are perceived as a homogenous group lacking in diversity. Jan gave the example of how she identified the specific need for safeguarding training for Shia mosques but this level of targeted support was discouraged.
– Mohammed suggested that the Shia communities might feel isolated so should be invited to sessions with other Islamic traditions.
(My reflection: This means mosques from different Islamic traditions need to be more proactive in linking across the traditions. This would be more effective than the Council trying to do this).
– We also discussed how our supplementary schools could open their doors to white students (My reflection: Countering the ‘white flight’ phenomenon).
– Jan gave an example of a Nigerian family sending their children to a Chinese supplementary school in order to learn Mandarin.
– We discussed what strategies could be employed to encourage white participation. For example, project funding for integrative activities, sponsorship of white children
(My reflection: Using research of University of Manchester to back up claims of educational gains, supplementary schools should be educational venues for all children. This could be especially useful for white working class families, whose boys are currently under-performing).
– Jan mentioned a similar programme in Leeds where mainstream schools were supported by supported by supplementary schools.
– Jan also mentioned the Al Furqan programme at the Manchester Academy for Somali children at risk of exclusion.
Radicalisation and Exploitation
– Mohammed and Waddah said that this was important within the context of PREVENT because radicalisation only takes place when Islamic teachings are hijacked by interpretations non native to Islam. As Islam teaches tolerance.
– Conversion to ISIS beliefs represent a perversion of Islam.
– Jan made the point that PREVENT should be about supporting families to spot the signs of all exploitation; gangs, drugs, sex trafficking.
– Ornette made the point that these forms of exploitation could be regarded as pre-cursors to radicalisation and should also be looked at.
– Munira said that more funding support should be given to families and especially mothers who have a central role in their families’ education.
– Munira suggested that mothers could play a significant part in preventing their children from being exploited.
(My reflection: funding the role of supplementary school as community hub providing wider community services is crucial here, as our school representatives are implying that radicalisation and its exploitation precursors are festering in isolation caused by structural disadvantage)
Supplementary Schools, Advocacy and History
– We discussed the potential of supplementary school teachers providing community role models for the children and young people.
– Mohammed said that high self esteem for black communities was also important.
– Munira said that there was a lot of undiscovered talent at the schools.
– We discussed the need to look at wider Muslim history in terms of colonialism
– Mohammed and Waddah gave an example of Islamic philanthropy (waqf) where it is forbidden to charge interest on a loan, as what would have been an interest payment should be given to the community. (Both said that ISIS is used to defy Islam)
(My reflection: It is interesting to note that Muslim communities are also passionately committed to eradicating Islamist radicalisation, so they, in theory would support PREVENT but it seems that they would like to be assisted in fighting against radicalisation on their own culturo-religious terms. The solution has to come from the grassroots and cannot come from the top down process that is currently administered under PREVENT. Funding for developing these grassroots culturally-relevant (Islamic) anti-radicalisation programmes are essential).
Linked to Research: Making Education a Priority (MEaP)