A Nottingham school has been told that it can no longer take new pupils and must partly close due to worries over “extremism” and “twisted ideologies” in the classroom.
The Jamia al-Hudaa Residential College has until Wednesday this week to appeal the decision by the Department for Education.
The independent Muslim fee-paying school in Berkeley Avenue, Mapperley Park, provides education for pupils aged four to 19-years-old, the vast majority of them girls.
There are currently 252 pupils on roll, with 171 of those named as boarders, but the Government has said the boarding provision must now close. The majority of the pupils pay up to £3,500 a year to study at the school.
Although it is an independent school the Government ordered Ofsted to inspect the school, which is part of the Madni Trust – a registered charity at the same address.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Extremism has no place in our society and when we find schools promoting twisted ideologies or discrimination in classrooms, we will take action, up to and including closing the school or working with the police as necessary.”
Concerns were first raised in April 2015 when the school was judged to be inadequate. At that time, 15 of the independent school standards and 10 of the national minimum standards for boarding schools were not met. A follow-up unannounced inspection has revealed that standards have still not been met.
Her Majesty’s Inspector Deirdre Duignan released a report following the visit in April.
She said: “Inspectors found that the school does not promote balanced views. Pupils can access books in the library that have been written by controversial authors, for example by one who is not allowed to enter this country.
“Leaders were not able to say how these books supported the school’s curriculum, or how pupils who accessed such books would be helped to understand a different point of view.
“Staff do not have a clear understanding of the specific risks that girls at this school may be vulnerable to, for example female genital mutilation. Some members of staff have gaps in their employment history that have not been checked.”
Inspectors also found that training for staff is not up to date, there were “widespread” problems with bullying and that staff were not able to say where some pupils were.
Although the school has not been fully shut down, it could decide that the restrictions mean it is not viable for it to stay open.
The Post visited the school, which officially opened in August 1996, and spoke to members of staff.
Principal Raza Ul Haq said: “All of the inspection which was carried out was flawed, and we are going to appeal to the court against this order, and we hopefully will win it and this school will never close.
“We have been working for the last 20 years and will carry on working. We are providing a big community service and we will carry on providing this service.”
Nottingham East MP Chris Leslie said: “There have clearly been some serious findings by Ofsted. It is vital the school now answers.
“We have to make sure all education establishments comply with modern standards of education. I hope that the problems are resolved urgently because there will be a number of worried families.”