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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child protection in religious organisations and settings Investigation Report


F.4: Child protection in out-of-school settings

35. Tower Hamlets has the largest percentage of Muslim residents in England and Wales, at 38 percent (as identified by the 2011 census) and the largest Bangladeshi community in the country, with one-third of its residents identifying as Bangladeshi.[1] Mr Baldwin explained that the local authority has received a “high number of referrals from religious tutors and in Madrassas”.[2] As a result, Tower Hamlets Council decided to employ a dedicated development worker to engage mosques and Muslim parents.[3] This member of staff delivered a range of seminars, covering a wide range of safeguarding topics – around 70 mosques or related educational providers had been engaged.[4] However, training uptake from religious organisations was low, and many teachers, in particular in respect of Qur’anic verse, are ‘freelance’ and not directly associated with or employed by a mosque.[5] They are recommended by word of mouth.

36. The National Resource Centre for Supplementary Education (NRCSE) is also doing work focussed on out-of-school settings and supplementary schools. The NRCSE was initially established in 2006 by the Department for Education and Skills (predecessor to the Department for Children, Schools and Families) and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Its aim is to campaign on behalf of supplementary schools and their students, and to work with them to raise their profile. As supplementary schooling is not registered in any way, staff do not need to have a teaching qualification, and may have little to no understanding of current teaching methods for dealing with the needs of children. Therefore, NRCSE provides accredited teacher training with a recognised certificate in teaching in the supplementary education sector, including options on teaching languages, teaching in Islamic supplementary schools and teaching those with special educational needs or disabilities.[6] NRCSE has provided a course in teaching in Islamic supplementary schools, which has been undertaken by 438 teachers from over 90 Islamic institutions around the country.[7]

37. NRCSE also provides a nationally recognised quality assurance scheme targeting providers of out-of-school education – the NRCSE Quality Mark.[8] This is designed to develop practical teaching skills and understanding of child protection. Nearly 500 schools have qualified for the Quality Mark.[9] In order to obtain it, schools must show that they can create an effective learning environment, and can select and support staff and volunteers.[10] This includes having to meet relevant child protection standards. This training is voluntary and significantly fewer religious organisations have used its services than in the out-of-school settings sector as a whole.[11] The NRCSE identified that clarity of responsibilities and the standards that should be implemented, and support for the sector, are needed.[12]

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