A father and daughter have been sentenced for running an illegal Islamic school for the second time despite two warnings from Ofsted to register the establishment as a school.
Headteacher Nadia Ali, 40, and director Arshad Ali, 75, admitted to running Ambassadors Home School Limited in Mitcham Lane, Streatham illegally. Both have prosecuted previously for the same offence.
Nadia Ali was today sentenced to 8 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months, 120 hours of unpaid work, a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement, and a prohibited activity requirement of not running or managing a school. She was also ordered to pay costs of £500.
Her father Arshad Ali was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £200. Ambassadors Home School Limited was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £500. All three pleaded guilty to conducting an independent educational institution that is not registered.
Following their first conviction, Nadia Ali described her pupils as “happy learners” in an interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme in 2019.
She also said the school had remained open as its work with the children was “quite unique”.
“I’ve been teaching for 15 years and I’ve seen how children need a different approach and that what we’re trying to do at Ambassadors,” she said.
“This is why I believe in what we’re trying to do because we’ve seen a lot of results within our children. They’re happy learners.”
Ambassadors Home School Limited had 34 boys and girls aged between five and 13 on its register but its operators failed, despite warnings from Ofsted, to register the establishment as a school, as required by law.
A school is regarded as an establishment which provides all, or substantially all, of a child’s education and has five or more pupils of compulsory school age attending. All schools must be registered with the Department for Education (DfE) and comply with set standards.
Paul Goddard, from the CPS, said: “These defendants continued to run an illegal school despite their previous conviction for the same offence. Nadia Ali’s determination to defy the law was made clear by an interview she gave to the BBC, following her first conviction, in which she vowed that the school would remain open.
“Ofsted inspectors carried out three further inspections and found the setting to be operating yet again as a school. During two of these inspections children appeared to be sent home from classes early in an attempt by staff to conceal the fact that the space was being run as a full-time establishment.
Mr Goddard went on to describe unregistered schools as posing a “serious threat to children.” During one visit to the school, he said inspectors were troubled by the lack of evidence that all teachers employed by the school were qualified to teach, or that all had passed DBS checks.
He said: “Registration of schools enables inspectors to regularly visit and inspect schools to ensure standards are being met, appropriate and quality teaching is being provided and children are being kept safe. By failing to register with the DfE, illegal schools are able to evade these checks, putting children at risk.
“It is a criminal offence to conduct an unregistered independent school and we will work with Ofsted to take appropriate steps to prosecute those who are responsible for running these illegal institutions where there is the evidence to do so.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in