A paper, from the University of Portsmouth and the University of Birmingham, has found that middle-class British Muslim parents are homeschooling their children because they are being subject to racist bullying in mainstream schools, including being called paedophiles and terrorists by other children.
The findings from the paper, written by Professor Kalwant Bhopal and Dr Martin Myers, were supported by case studies, which detailed incidences of this bullying, and suggests that this trend could cause the Muslim community to become more marginalised, stating that those who did remove their children “were now more likely to be marginalised in a wider discourse about the threat of Muslim families to British life”.
Ofsted has previously suggested that homeschooling could be used as a cover for the radicalisation of children, raising concerns about the rise of homeschooling in the UK. It has stated that Muslim parents taking their children out of school and telling the local authorities they would homeschool them could be a cover for sending their children to illegal hardline Islamist schools. However, the report found that racist bullying was more of a factor in Muslim parents deciding to homeschool their children than the desire to promote their religion.
The paper also found that concerns about the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham had also left Muslim families feeling “threatened by the society around them”.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) commented that, “Racist bullying and discrimination of young Muslim children has been a serious concern amongst many Muslim families for a long time, and stories of individuals choosing to home-school as a result are not unusual”. It stated that it had raised concerns about this with the government, which did not seem to take them seriously, adding, “Whilst we hope for a change in the approach, it would be disappointing if it is only the risk of radicalisation to spur the government into action”.
A spokesman for Ofsted said, “It is unacceptable that any family should feel they have no choice but to home educate their child because they are being bullied at school”, adding that Ofsted looks at instances of this when it inspects schools and used this to form its judgement on individual schools. He said, “Schools bring together children from a wide range of different backgrounds, so it is very important that they work hard to unify their pupils and promote equalities law and fundamental British values”.
A spokesman from the department of education said that bullying of any kind was “completely unacceptable” and stated it has been “working closely with religious groups, including Muslim organisations, to strengthen school guidance on race or faith related bullying and [it is] providing £1.75 million for anti-bullying organisations to help schools tackle bullying”.
Rudgard, O. (2018) ‘Fears of bullying drives Muslim children to being homeschooled’. [online] 3rd April. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/03/fears-bullying-drives-muslim-children-homeschooled/. [Accessed 8 April 2018].