The paper is a critique of Britain’s faith schools, with a focus on Islamic schools in particular. The authors are concerned that some faith schools in the UK teach segregation, intolerance, and are vulnerable to extremist influence. The authors argue that the current regulatory system has too few mechanisms to deal with this, and that it lags behind other European countries in this regards.
The timing of the paper is important because it comes as the Coalition government is investing in free schools, which will result in greater freedom for faith schools from the local education authority. The work contains a useful, accessible overview of the academic system in relation to faith schools. However, it is not based on significant primary research or new evidence. It is difficult to say because there is no methodology set out, but it appears primarily desk-based research.
Of note is the recommendation to create a ‘Due Diligence Unit’, to be housed in the Department of Education, which would include a strengthened focus on extremism. Through this and other means, it offers several prescriptive proposals on how any new unit might spot and tackle extremism in schools, including the targeting of certain schools and also argues for free schools to have assurances against extremism in any funding arrangements.