Schools in London (July, 2013)

[This report is part of the London (UloomLon) Project which is an initiative to review resources available in Greater London for Muslims. This report is released under the creative common licence with added stipulations mentioned in the sharing policy - Saif]

This report reviews Islamic primary, secondary schools and sixth-forms (ages 5-19) in Greater London. It reviews (1) how many institutes there are and their capacity, (2) where they are, and (3) how much they charge. What constitutes an Islamic school is a subject of another article. Suffices it to say in this report it refers to those institutes which declared to the Department of Education (DfE) as having a Muslim characteristics1. The following is the summary of the findings:

  1. There are 51 institutes which run 69 schools: 29 primary, 33 secondary school (23 single secondary schools, 5 mixed each with its separate sections for boys and girls) and 7 sixth-forms
  2. There is only one boarding school
  3. The institutes in aggregate have a capacity of 7248 pupils; facilities for 2.6% of the Muslim population of London aged 5-19
  4. School distribution correlate closely with the Muslim population
  5. Schools on average (median) charge £2900, £2700 and £2400 for primary, secondary and sixth-form respectively

How many are there

130922001_Islamic_schools_in_greater_london_2013-01

According to EduBase (July, 2013), there are 188 institutes in the UK which have a registered religious characteristic of Muslim. 57 are in Greater London of which 6 are now defunct and 51 are still active. The EduBase database is maintained by the Department for Education (DfE). Although it claims to be the most up to date source, its list is not comprehensive as there are notable omissions and the data is not entirely accurate. The purpose of this report is to give a snapshot of the provision for compulsory schooling for Muslims in Greater London. To this end this list should suffice; primary, secondary and sixth-forms are reviewed, however, colleges and higher education centres are excluded. The sample chosen are those institutes that are registered with the DfE and have declared a Muslim religious characteristic although it is recognised that there are many Islamic schools which opt not to register or declare their religious characteristic.

In the UK, primary (ages 4-11) and secondary (aged 11-16) education is mandatory whilst post 16 studies are optional. These 51 institutes provide one, some or all the stages of education. The breakdown is as follows:

  1. 22 are exclusively primary
  2. 17 are exclusively secondary
  3. 4 are both primary and secondary
  4. 4 are secondary with sixth-form
  5. 3 are primary, secondary with a sixth-form

There are 29 primary schools. As rules of purdah (covering) takes effect after puberty, most of the primaries (26) are mixed with boys and girls in one class. However, as the final two years are bordering on puberty, some parents opt for a single sex primary. Hence, from the list, two primaries are girls only and one boys only. Notably, all the single-sex primaries are feeder schools to their secondary. As most primaries do not cater for this need some secondary schools have opted to offer year 6 (ages 10) also.

There are 28 secondary schools at least on paper; 12 for boys, 11 for girls and 5 are mixed. None of the schools at this stage really have mixed lessons; rather classes for boys and girls are in different classrooms in separated closed off sections or buildings. So in practice, there are 33 secondary schools; 17 are for boys and 16 are for girls.

There are 7 sixth-forms, most of which rely on retaining their existing students from their own secondary, and are relatively small in size. 4 are for boys, 2 are for girls and 1 is mixed (without provision for separate classes). The sizes are significantly small although there are separate institutes which are filling the void.

The capacity of the schools is stated to be 7248 pupils. Considering that there are 278824 Muslims aged between 5-19 in Greater London2, this is significantly low as it only makes provision for only 2.6% of the population. There are many Islamic schools which are oversubscribed; nevertheless, there are those which are struggling to fill seats. The average (median) school capacity is 116 (SD 121) pupils with the upper boundary at 406. The largest is 508 albeit it is a Voluntary Aided school. There are many factors which have an impact amongst which is that many are new schools and still improving as well as the locations (many are clustered near each other). Furthermore, the price is also a factor especially considering the fact that Muslims in London have larger families and live in deprived areas.

Where are they

The spread of the schools correlates closely with the distribution of the Muslims around London. Naturally, Tower Hamlets and Newham being the populous Muslim boroughs3, have the highest number of institutes with 11 and 8 respectively. Brent has five institutes, Hackney has four, Lambeth and Redbridge have three each, Ealing, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth have two each. Barking, Barnet, Bromley, Croydon, Hammersmith, Haringey, Lewisham and Merton have one each. The remaining boroughs have no Muslim schools.

In East London, Tower Hamlets has a relatively wider range with five primaries, five boy secondary schools, one girl’s secondary school. Newham is still developing in comparison; other than three schools around the Forest Gate area, most of the schools are significantly small and newly starting. Newham has three girls secondary schools, two boy’s secondary and four primary schools. Newham has no sixth-form whilst Tower Hamlets has one sixth-form for boys and one for girls. The third largest Muslim borough, Redbridge, is also still developing with only three primary schools despite having a sizable Muslim population. Many young Muslim couples with growing families have moved to Barking and Dagenham but have no primaries in the borough and resort to neighbouring Redbridge or further although they do have one secondary girls school.

In West London, Brent has the most schools with five institutes covering all the tiers; three primary schools for boys and girls, two secondary schools for boys and two for girls. The neighbouring Ealing also has two institutes which cover all the tiers including two sixth-forms. Hammersmith has one institute which has one mixed primary and a girl’s secondary. Westminster despite having a sizable Muslim population has no Muslim schools and they seem to rely on the neighbouring boroughs.

In North London, Barnet has one institute which has one mixed primary and a girl’s secondary school with a sixth-form. Haringey has only one primary school. Waltham Forest despite it relatively large Muslim population has only one primary school and one boy's secondary. In contrast, Hackney despite its smaller Muslim population has a good complement of school albeit mostly concentrated around the Stamford Hill area. It has four institutes which run two primaries (one of which is only for girls), one girl's secondary with a sixth-form and two boy's secondary school one of which starts from year six.

In South London, there are 9 institutes which are scattered far apart. Bromley has a boy's boarding school with a secondary and sixth-form although the local Muslim community is very small. Its neighbouring borough of Lewisham has one primary. The remain are in the direct south with one institute in Croydon running a primary and boy's secondary school and three in Lambeth, all of which are primaries from which two are maintained or Voluntary Aided (VA). Merton has one primary school. Wandworth has two institutes, one of which is VA running a primary whilst the other institute runs a primary and a secondary with separate facilities for boys and girls.

How much do they charge

Primary Secondary Sixth-Form
Min £1320 £1600 £2000
Lower Quartile (Q1) £2250 £2450 £2215
Median £2900 £2700 £2400
Upper Quartile (Q3) £3180 £3270 £2750
Upper Boundry £4578 £4500 £3552
Max £7800 £6700 £4000

The average median fees charged by the institutes are between £2400 and £2900 per annum4. Primary schools are more expensive with a median of £2900 than secondary schools with the lower quartile at £2250 and the upper quartile at £3180 (interquartile range at £930). Although the most expensive fee is £7800, it is never really charged and discount is given. In practice no primary school charges beyond £4575. The lowest fee for a primary school (other than the free schools partially or fully funded by the government) is £1320 but that also is an exception. The secondary schools are slightly a bit more consistent; their fees are on the average median of £2700 with the lower quartile at £2450 and the upper quartile at £3270 (a spread of £820). Very few secondary schools charge below £2000 and those that do are still in the development phase (the lowest recorded is £1600). The upper boundary is at £4500 with outliers at £6700. The sixth-form prices are generally less than their secondary counterpart but not by much as discounts are given to retain their students. The education at that level is optional and the subjects are limited, hence, the numbers currently at that point are very low to non-existent. The median fees are £2400 with the lower quartile at £2,215 and the upper quartile at £2,750. The lowest charged is £2000 whilst the highest is £4000.

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Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
16 Dhul Qa'dah 1434 AH
22 September 2013 CE

  • 1. Technically, such institutions will have a commitment of spending 20% of the curriculum time to teaching topics related on Islam.
  • 2. Census, 2011
  • 3. Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. 2013. London – Muslim Population 2011. London, UK; Uloom. Available online: http://nawhami.com/bulletin/130102001
  • 4. Calls were made to all the schools on July to enquire about their fees for September, 2013
Date (AH): 
11/22/1434
Date (CE): 
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Document Type: 
Reference: 
130922001