|"An excellent resource, much needed and long overdue!"|
This booklet represents one of the first serious attempts to provide guidelines to mosques and their staff on the modern-day running of Madressahs (supplementary Islamic schools).Â Â This beautiful, colourful booklet is well-presented incorporating Muslim design and several pictures of mosques from around the world. It is very user friendly and is divided into six sections. The booklet covers the Muslim philosophy of child education and also comprehensively covers UK legislation in relation to children in education. A glossary and a list of useful telephone numbers are also included.
The forward, by Directors of Kirklees Council, acknowledges the "invaluable work" and the "service" that Madressahs "provide to families and the community" and expresses the council's desire to support management committees and teachers in "achieving good practice both in teaching and child welfare" and provide training to "enable staff to fulfil their legal responsibilities towards young people they teach".
In his introduction, Shakeel Hafez, the Project Development Officer, gives a historical and operational background of Madressahs. He also mentions the series of events and activities that took place in Kirklees, where the "Social Services have had some concerns in the past with regard to occasional referrals alleging corporal punishment of young children..." This finally led to the "Madressah Project" being jointly set up, by the Muslims of Kirklees and the local social services, and the publication of this important booklet.
Section one tackles behaviour management beginning with an outline of the responsibilities of mosque management committees. It then suggests some ways in which those responsibilities could be carried out and the goals that committees should work towards.
Next the responsibilities of teachers are tackled and guidance is given on how to achieve good behaviour in the Madressah asserting that it is the teacher who "promotes or prevents good behaviour" in class. Some useful tips follow ending with some sound advice - be calm, be patient and be a good role model. This section also highlights the responsibilities involved in the teaching and care of children with a disability.
Section two tackles child protection and begins with an explanation of the Children Act 1989. In order to help "understanding child abuse", a brief summary of the different forms of abuse is provided. The section then moves on to the more difficult area of "recognising signs and symptoms of possible abuse" and also the "effects of abuse and neglect". The section ends with invaluable tips on how to "respond to a child wanting to talk about abuse" emphasising the need to avoid a line of questioning that "could compromise other enquiries".
Section three outlines the role of the principal agencies that are involved in child protection and other agencies and support services that could be useful. The role of social services and the police is dealt with in detail and so is the issue of allegations made against teachers.
Section four deals with recruitment and training and concludes with a suggested action plan for Madressah and Section five deals with health and safety outlining the requirements of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The appendices provide extremely useful samples of "behaviour policy statements", "child protection policy and procedures" and also samples of forms that may need to be completed. Flow charts on child protection enquiries and allegations help to navigate the system and procedures with ease and clarity.
The booklet ends with a mention of the Community Education and Regeneration Project and provides information on financial assistance for Madressahs.
Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra (MA, London)
Chair, Mosque and Community Affairs Committee, Muslim Council of Britain
'Safe Children Sound Learning - Guidance for Madressahs', published by Kirklees Metropolitan Council Education and Social Services, is available (Price Â£10) from Community Education on 01484 225385 or email: commed®firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ Â A further leaflet has also been produced on 'Positive Parenting' for those parents in the community who may not be familiar with this concept. The leaflet discusses how positive parenting encourages better behaviour and why smacking is harmful to children. It is available from Kirklees Parenting Support Forum on 01484 225353.