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Racism and Islamophobia compel Muslim children to be home-schooled

Racism and Islamophobia compel Muslim children to be home-schooled

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday April 04 2018

A new study conducted by sociologists Martin Myers and Kalwant Bhopal found that Muslim families in Britain are increasingly educating their children at home due to racist bullying and marginalisation.


The study was conducted against the backdrop of the Trojan Horse affair, and explored the main drivers of home-schooling in relation to the families’ perception of “risk”, that is, the fear that Muslim families held due to the widespread racism against their children at school.


The study argues that several Muslim families around the Birmingham area prefer to home-school their children because of their “positioning as marginalised others”. Indeed, as the research shows, “When Muslims are demonised in society, in the Trojan Horse narrative for example, such social crises become individual crises in which Muslim families feel threatened by the society around them”.


The study also analysed societal responses to Muslims’ home-schooling by addressing OFSTED’s position on the issue. It argues that, rather than addressing the issue of racism and Islamophobia in British schools, OFSTED identifies these families “as circumventing an engagement with schooling in order to access unregistered Islamic schools, and potentially putting children at risk of radicalisation”. However, the research has found that in a climate of stigmatisation and prejudice, Muslim home educators “draw upon traditional family and community support to address issues in their children’s education”. In short, contrary to what OFSTED has envisaged, home schooling is not leading to the building of “extremist coalitions”, but for many is regarded as a necessary answer to the Government’s failure to tackle Islamophobia in schools.


MEND has long maintained that tackling racist bullying at school is an important step to undertake in the fight against Islamophobia. In 2012/13, ChildLine found a 69% increase on the previous year in counselling related to racist bullying, with terms like “bomber” and “terrorist” being frequently used, along with children being told to “go back to where you came from”. More recently, the NSPCC reported a dramatic increase in helpline calls relating to racial and religious bullying or hate crimes following the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester in 2017.


For these reasons, MEND encourages policy makers to commit to:


  • Developing teaching materials to educate young people on the dangers of Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of hatred.
  • Prioritising PSHE and PSRE in the national curriculum to prepare young people for life in a diverse and pluralistic society.
  • Supporting faith school provisions in the state sector for Muslim pupils and parents.
  • Developing training programmes for teachers focussed on tackling and addressing bullying based on race, religion, disability or sexuality.
  • Supporting community and school-led programmes that encourage cultural exchange between pupils of different racial, religious, ethnic and other backgrounds.


Tackling bullying in schools and instilling respect and appreciation for different faiths and beliefs is a key part of the fight against Islamophobia and racism, as well as essential in building a pluralistic and respectful society in which multiculturalism and diversity are seen as an asset and not as a threat.



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