Raided Islamic school closed down

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The Independent Online

An independent Islamic school raided by police as part of an anti-terror operation last year has been closed by the Government, ministers announced today.

The Jameah Islameah School in Mark Cross, near Crowborough, East Sussex, was shut down after the school failed to follow an improvement action plan.

It is now illegal for the school, which was raided by police last September, to continue to operate, the Department for Education and Skills said.

Schools minister Jim Knight said: "It is important that parents and the wider public are assured that all schools - whether in the maintained or independent sector - provide their pupils with a suitable education, and that we will take strong action against those that are failing."

The DfES said the school had been deleted from the Register of Independent Schools and faces prosecution if it continues to operate.

Ofsted conducted a series of inspections at the school after concerns were raised. The school was then required to follow an action plan to address failings.

The DfES said the school had failed to meet the action plan and was also struggling through lack of pupils - a situation which was thought likely to continue.

Mr Knight went on: "In the past three years more than 45 independent schools have shut down as a consequence of this Government's tough approach.

"However, the Government remains keen to support the delivery of high quality education by schools in the independent sector.

"The recent Education and Inspection Act 2006 will make it easier for independent schools to enter the state sector to improve standards.

"The Government has funded the Association of Muslim Schools to advise independent Muslim schools interested in joining the state sector."

The school, which can also be spelled Jameah Islamiya, opened in September 2003 as an independent day school for Muslim boys aged 11 to 16, with annual fees of £1,000.

It was set within 54 acres and had 100 rooms, including outhouses. Its vast grounds were often used at weekends as a retreat for Muslim families from London.

Sussex Police officers were deployed around the school for 24 days from September 1 last year, as Metropolitan Police led a search of the buildings and grounds.

No arrests were made in connection with the school and the 11 pupils, in addition to more than 20 teachers and other adults living at the site, were moved elsewhere during the operation.

The raid on the school coincided with raids in London during which 14 people were arrested. A number of men have been charged in connection with the investigation into an alleged network of terrorist recruiters.

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