Statement re. Twitter allegations March 2021
This statement relates to allegations made on Twitter in late February-early March 2021.
We are aware, of social media posts alleging that LAE is an institutionally Islamophobic institution. We refute this allegation. A number of tweets also allege incidents of Islamophobic and inappropriate comments made by staff to Muslim students. We take such allegations extremely seriously and encourage anyone with a grievance to contact the school directly. A small number of accounts are making what are, in our view, baseless accusations which are factually incorrect, malicious and libellous.
Most of the tweets alleging Islamophobia refer to the lack of on-site facilities for Muslim prayer, saying that in not providing a prayer room, LAE is failing in its duty of care to respect the religious rights of its Muslim students (who make up a large minority of the student body). The student body reflects the diversity of the borough, with students from many different religions and no religion working together in a harmonious and tolerant way. It is true to say that we do not have dedicated prayer facilities on site for any religious groups to practise their faith.
This decision was taken in 2015 by the governing body to increase our academic and co-curricular provision. It was made in consultation with students and families and with legal advice. We recognised the importance of prayer to many of our students and LAE school leaders reached out to a local prayer facility when space at the school site became an issue, to make certain that their cultural /religious need could be catered for. Consequently, to accommodate Muslim students and staff who wish to pray, we have a short day on Fridays (finishing at 1.15) and our lunch breaks are long enough for students to get to local prayer rooms and back for afternoon sessions. The nearest prayer facility is less than a 5-minute walk away and provides a Friday Jummah service that is well attended by LAE students. We therefore disagree with the suggestion that not having a prayer room on site is an indicator of institutional Islamophobia.
LAE has had over a thousand students complete their A levels with us and go on to top universities all over the UK and beyond. Hundreds of these successful young people are Muslims or are of Islamic heritage. In the eight years since its foundation, LAE has not had a formal complaint made of institutional Islamophobia and even now, following these Twitter allegations, we have not received any formal, evidence-based complaints that we can follow-up on through due process. Any complaints that do come to us will be investigated through our formal mechanism, but we cannot interact with anonymous Twitter accounts.
Finally, the governors and senior leadership team of LAE would like to reiterate our commitment to equality and inclusion. We celebrate our diversity and do everything we can to run a happy, healthy, scholarly community that remains true to our core values of kindness, respect, independence, resilience, humility, and excellence.