The closure of an independent Muslim school in east London could lead to the radicalisation of its students, according its owners.
Cityside Primary Trust, owners of Ayasofia Primary School in Whitechapel , was told by the Secretary Of State For Education in December 2015 that it would be struck off the independent schools register due to educational failings revealed by four inspections throughout the year.
According to Ofsted, the school planned lessons poorly, pupils’ work was barely marked and the security was described as “lax”.
The trust subsequently appealed the decision claiming that shutting the school, which has 80 pupils aged between four and 11, was “disproportionate”.
It also argued students were avoiding radicalisation by attending the school instead of being educated through “unregistered home schooling by ultra-religious family members”.
But the appeal was dismissed at a recent tribunal, with Judge Laurence Bennett saying the findings of the inspectors had not been addressed with sufficient urgency and many of the failings were continuing.
He said: “We are not persuaded that there is a binary consequence, that is attendance at Ayasofia, a school judged to have significant failings, or home schooling with attendant risks.
“The borough of Tower Hamlets has many schools and evidence was given of alternative independent faith schools.”
He acknowledged the school had introduced elements that weren’t usually found within a conservative religious curriculum, including girls learning the Koran.
A statement from the trust on the school’s website, written before the appeal decision, said: “We strongly feel the school has been offering valuable educational services to young and vulnerable children throughout London and has progressively gained popularity over the last seven years.
“Pupils from our school are mostly achieving above average results in their SATs and continue to achieve outstanding results in all the secondary schools they have moved on to over the years.”
It went on to say that over the last 14 months the school had “resisted an unprecedented level of external pressure” from the Department For Education, Ofsted and other government departments to “close the school down at all costs”.
“This witch hunt was triggered immediately after the school took on pupils from a tuition centre that closed down in January 2015 as acknowledged by the most senior Department For Education representative at the hearing,” it said.
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