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Private faith school allowed to repeatedly fail Ofsted safeguarding inspections for five years

A private Muslim faith school in East London has been allowed to repeatedly fail Ofsted inspections of its safeguarding for five years. Humanists UK – which campaigns for tighter regulation of private religious schools – has expressed alarm at the fact that the school has been able to take so little action to address these failings for so long.

Hafs Academy, an all-boys school based on an industrial estate in Newham, was first discovered to be failing in its safeguarding duties as far back as 2016. It has since failed to meet the Independent School Standards – a set of criteria private schools must meet in order to satisfy the requirement to provide pupils with a suitable education – in any inspection from December 2018.

The most recent inspection report, which has just been issued, says policies with relation to tackling extremism and radicalisation had not been updated since 2016. This is despite a previous inspection highlighting that ‘leaders and staff [lacked] the necessary knowledge to protect pupils from extremist or radical views’ and ‘leaders [had] not taken adequate steps to understand and assess risks to pupils as required by the ‘Prevent’ duty.’ The new report also said school leaders are ‘not vigilant enough about identifying health and safety risks’ with the rear fire emergency escape route… restricted’ and that fire extinguishers have not been checked since 2019.

The most recent data on the performance of private Muslim schools finds that, in the past year, 42% were rated ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’ at their last inspection. In private schools without a religious character, this figure is 33%, with the poor performance of Muslim schools only outstripped by private Jewish schools where a massive 83% received these failing grades.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham commented: 

‘Like many private faith schools, Hafs Academy has been permitted to get away with repeated failures to adequately protect its pupils from harm. Indeed, according to Ofsted data, some 39% of private religious schools failed to adequately safeguard pupils compared to just 10% of schools without a religious character. In this case, those failures stretch back some five years now.

‘This is a simply unacceptable state of affairs. The Government must now act quickly to protect the thousands of pupils that are currently being put at risk in this and other poorly regulated, unsafe schools.’

Humanists UK is currently fundraising for the salary and resourcing costs of its dedicated education campaigner. If you’re a supporter of Humanists UK’s vision for a fairer education system then please donate at


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Ruth Wareham at or phone 020 7324 3000 or 07725 110 860.

Read the latest Ofsted inspection.

Read our most recent article on the inadequate private school failed by Ofsted for failing to discuss LGBT people.

Read our piece on the Government considering closing a private creationist school.

Read our article about Government closure of a private Muslim school that segregated pupils and teachers by sex.

Read more about our work on faith schools.

Read our Manifesto for Inclusive Education.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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