Muslim school challenges critical Ofsted report

Olive Tree Primary

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The Olive Tree Primary School in Luton is an Islamic day school that caters for nearly 80 pupils aged between five and 11 years old

Governors at an Islamic school have made a complaint over a highly-critical inspectors’ report.

Ofsted found pupils at the independent Olive Tree Primary School in Luton had to ask for toilet paper and wash their cutlery in toilet sinks.

Dr Nurul Islam, chairman of governors, said a number of issues had been “rectified” and a “formal complaint” lodged over the report’s findings.

Ofsted said it would investigate and took all complaints “seriously”.

Its inspectors found a number of standards were not met, reporting that “inappropriate books” that “did not promote British values” had been found during a previous inspection.

Despite school leaders stating the titles had been removed, the books, including some by a banned author with “extreme views about punishment by death”, were still on the shelves when inspectors re-visited the establishment in November.

‘Religious principles’

The report also raised concerns about health and safety standards in the school, for which Luton Borough Council has safeguarding responsibilities.

“We do not comment on complaints received but take all complaints very seriously and investigate them thoroughly,” the Ofsted spokeswoman said.

“Ofsted inspects all schools against the same framework and standards. We do not expect faith schools to abandon their religious principles.

“We do, however, expect them to ensure pupils are adequately prepared for life in modern Britain.”

Labour councillor Mahmood Hussain said the council had a “high level of concern” over the quality of education and health and safety practices at the school, which it had shared with the Department for Education and Ofsted over “an extended period of time”.

“If [a good a quality education] cannot be achieved at Olive Tree then we would want to see the DfE as regulator for independent schools to take robust action,” he said.

A spokesman for the DfE said: “All independent schools are inspected against the new, tougher Independent School Standards, and where there are concerns a school is failing to meet these standards we will not hesitate to take action.”

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