First Muslim school may face closure

UNDER FIRE: the Glasgow IQRA Academy

Scotland’s first Muslim school faces closure amid claims of bullying and corporal punishment.

Glasgow’s fee-paying Iqra Academy has been slammed in a damning report by education inspectors.

Education officials at the Scottish Executive now plan to issue a notice of complaint to the school, which was set up in 1998 by a group of Asian businessmen.

And if measures are not taken to correct a series of failings highlighted by the inspectors, the south-side school will be forced to close in six months.

The school, where annual fees are £1500, has around 100 pupils, including 15 male boarders.

Iqra is based in a former annexe to Bellahouston Academy and named after the Arabic word for read.

The inspectors found:

•Most girls and a third of boarders alleged they had been bullied;

•Morale among girl pupils was very low;

•Teaching offered to secondary-age pupils was of very poor quality;

•Pupils’ welfare was not suitably safeguarded;

•Management at the school was ineffective;

•The school was not meeting its stated aims and its only strength was the quality of accommodation.

The report said: “Pupils raised issues which gave the inspectors cause for serious concern about their welfare.

“None of the girls thought they were treated fairly. Boys reported inappropriate sanctions, including some instances of corporal punishment.”

The report said more experienced staff had to be employed to care for the boarders and called for the school’s policies on preventing abuse to be strengthened, with better training for staff.

A spokesman for HM Inspectorate of Education said its team had reported claims of bullying and corporal punishment to the city council.

But the school denied the allegations of “inappropriate sanctions”. A spokesman said: “These claims are all lies.”

A statement issued by the school said staff were “seriously concerned” by parts of the report and were taking action to overcome the problems highlighted.

The school spokesman added: “We assure our parents, community and patrons we will do the best we can to provide good education in a healthy environment.”

A city council spokesman said: “We are aware of the report into Iqra.”