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Governors sacked at Muslim school in Birmingham

30 May 2014

AL-HIJRAH SCHOOL

Interim board: Al-Hijrah school 

Interim board: Al-Hijrah school 

BIRMINGHAM city council has sacked the governors of the Muslim voluntary aided Al-Hijrah School, Birmingham, and appointed an interim executive board and a new acting head teacher after OFSTED inspections over several months showed a serious decline in standards, the council has confirmed.

The decision to disband the governing body, "which no longer has any power or responsibility in matters relating to the school", was taken with the backing of the Department for Education (DfE), a council statement said. A recent monitoring visit by inspectors found "continued failings related to the school's governance, financial stability, and its improvement plan", it said.

The move has been strongly resisted by the staff and governors of Al-Hijrah. Members of the new interim board who visited the school on Thursday last week withdrew "after it became clear staff were not going to co-operate", the statement said. They would return next Monday, when the school reopens after half term, to explain the situation to parents.

Press reports said that a council officer who tried to enter the school was turned away by security guards hired by the governors.

The heavily oversubscribed Al-Hijrah School opened in 1988 as an independent school, but became a publicly funded voluntary aided school in 2002. It is not one of the 21 schools inspected in connection with the "Trojan horse" allegations (News, 16 May), but is connected to them through its governors, one of whom was a "consultant" at one of the affected schools.

Tariq Alam, who chairs the governors at Park View Academy, at the centre of the allegations, is reportedly secretary of the Al-Hijrah Trust, which runs a school in Balochistan, in Pakistan. It is also associated with the neighbouring Al-Hijrah Training Academy.

The academy's website says that its courses are designed to help parents, teachers, governors, and educational institutions ensure that the moral and spiritual needs of the half-million Muslim children who attend maintained schools in Britain are met.

Birmingham clergy and diocesan officials have expressed concern that the investigations sparked by the Trojan-horse affair are damaging community relations. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, is a member of a group of city leaders set up by the council to review the allegations.

Muslim-school dispute.

OFSTED inspectors investigating allegations of fundamentalist Salafist teaching at the independent Olive Tree Muslim primary school, Luton, met strong resistance from parents, The Guardian newspaper reports.

The allegations were denied by Olive Tree school's chairman of governors, Farasat Latif, who said that the inspectors had asked pupils inappropriate questions about the teaching of homosexuality.

Reports in The Guardian say that the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Farooq Murad, has written to OFSTED's chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, seeking clarification of the situation.

OFSTED did not usually inspect independent schools, but could do so at the request of the DfE, a spokesman said this week. The agency did not comment on inspections before reports were published, he said.

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