Islamic pupils shared rooms with food bins

13th June 1997 at 01:00
Inspectors have told a private Islamic boarding school to deal with risks to pupils' health and safety or be struck off the Department for Education and Employment's schools register.

The Islamic Institute opened in 1994 at Flintham, near Nottingham. It caters for 85 boys aged between 11 and 16, and currently has a provisional registration.

The institute was given a full inspection by the Office for Standards in Education after HM Inspectorate had expressed concern and after it had been visited by Nottingham social services.

The OFSTED report, published last weekend, was highly critical of the school's health and safety arrangements. "There are not enough showers to ensure personal cleanliness as opposed to ritual ablution," the inspectors found. There was also no proper system for disposing of rubbish, so that pupils were sleeping "in the same room as full waste bins containing smelly food waste". Inspectors found piles of rubbish and broken glass outside dormitory windows. Pupils were responsible for cleaning their own rooms, with predictable results.

The Islamic Institute did not have a school nurse or a sick room, and many of the fire extinguishers were empty.

Educational standards also left much to be desired. Standards in the secular subjects were "well below what would be expected" - only in biology was work in line with pupils' abilities. In mathematics, the majority of lessons were unsatisfactory, with pupils' understanding of mathematical concepts "superficial and transient". The inspectors did, however, find examples of good work by some pupils in most subjects.

Pupils spend the mornings and evenings on Islamic studies (18.75 hours a week compared with 11.25 for secular studies) which includes learning Arabic and Urdu. Pupils were mechanically competent but lacked understanding in these languages. Pupils had little contact with non-religious literature and were not introduced to any British religious or cultural traditions outside Islam, say the inspectors.

The head, Muhammad Laqman, who was appointed shortly before the inspectors arrived, said that the health and safety problems had now been sorted out. "I would say that about 60 per cent of the work has now been carried out, although raising teaching standards cannot be done overnight."

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