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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 3 March 2021

Trust running one of Britain’s ‘worst’ Islamic faith schools faces second inquiry

Rabia School in Luton was rated ‘inadequate’ after failing to meet standards

The UK’s Charity Commission has launched a second inquiry into the Rabia Educational Trust.
The UK’s Charity Commission has launched a second inquiry into the Rabia Educational Trust.

A second inquiry has been launched into the trust running one of the UK’s worst Islamic faith schools after it admitted pupils despite being banned from doing so.

The Rabia Girls’ and Boys’ School in Luton, near London, became the first registered independent school to be prosecuted by the government in 2020 after years of failings and is the only school to be classed as ‘inadequate’ in four consecutive inspections.

Now the UK’s Charity Commission has launched a second inquiry into the Rabia Educational Trust, which runs the school, for breaking rules imposed by the Department of Education (DoE).

A landmark prosecution on behalf of the DoE earlier this year saw magistrates fine Rabia £8,000 and the trust’s chairman Zafar Iqbal Khan £4,000 for breaching operating conditions.

Ofsted inspectors found that the school was admitting new pupils even though it was forbidden from doing so, due to successive failings in children’s welfare.

The Commission has now opened a new inquiry into the charity, investigating failure to comply with regulatory guidance.

A previous investigation from 2016 found Rabia guilty of misconduct, and trustees were issued with a legal order requiring them to follow the requirements of the government’s educational regulator Ofsted.

The Commission said it “has since kept the charity under close review and provided further regulatory advice and guidance”.

“Whilst some progress has been made, the trustees have persistently failed in the requirement to meet the Independent Schools Standards,” it said.

“In May, the charity and its chair were convicted for breaching operating conditions imposed by the Secretary of State for Education. Ofsted inspectors had found evidence that the school was admitting new pupils despite being prohibited from doing so due to successive safeguarding and welfare failings.

“As a result of this, and the failure to comply with regulatory advice and guidance, the Commission has opened a new inquiry into the charity.”

The inquiry is set to examine the trustees’ compliance with their legal duties around the administration, governance and management of the charity.

The school, which charges annual fees ranging from £1,950 to £2,300, has remained open through the court case and inquiry.

Rabia has been rated ‘inadequate’ by school inspectors since 2014, having previously held only a ‘satisfactory’ rating.

Last year it was one of seven private schools banned from accepting new pupils for “persistently” failing to meet independent school standards.

Inspectors discovered in September 2019 that it was still admitting pupils.

Earlier this year, Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman labelled the conviction against the Trust as “unprecedented”.

“If schools have a restriction imposed on them because of their repeated failure to meet basic standards, they must comply with it. If not, they are liable to prosecution and significant financial penalties,” she said.

“This unprecedented conviction sends out a strong message.”

Under enforcement action, the DoE has powers to forbid schools from taking on new pupils, close a building and even order the full closure of a school.

Published: November 11, 2020 09:57 PM

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