Birmingham’s shadow education chief has called for an Islamic faith school to be shut down following a catalogue of failure and negative headlines.
Conservative education spokesman Matt Bennett described the Al Hijrah School in Bordesley Green as a “damaged brand” after it was reported girls were warned not to use tampons .
It has been run by a Birmingham City Council interim executive board (IEB) for four years since the school first ran into trouble amid claims of financial mismanagement.
But no permanent trust or organisation has offered to take on the school.
Cllr Bennett (Edgbaston) said: “No one wants to do it. There’s been a catalogue of problems here over many years and the school has a reputation for trouble.
“This is of course a school whose improvement was closely overseen by the city council for several years.
“They have killed the brand, if no reputable Islamic school or trust wants to take it on then perhaps it should be shut down.”
Al-Hijrah is the city’s only Islamic school and caters for children aged from four to 16 and was once one of the most sought after schools in the country.
The string of issues at the school include:
• being was placed in special measures in 2013 following an Ofsted inspection which identified failures in governance
• the governing body was sacked after debts of £3 million were found. The IEB took over.
• Ofsted rated the school as inadequate in 2017
• Inspectors found books in the library which “included derogatory comments about, and the incitement of violence towards, women”. These included appearing to advocate rape within marriage and allow beating as long as it does not leave a mark.
The Court of Appeal last year ruled that its gender segregation policy amounted to ‘discrimination’.
• The school was criticised last year after nine-year-old pupil Mohammed Ismaeel Ashraf died from a severe allergic reaction to something he ate while at the school. City coroner Louise Hunt said there were many failings on the part of the school.
• Now it has been found that a document circulated to staff involved in teaching sex and relationships states: “Among the various types of pads, tampons may not be appropriate due to insertion.”
The teaching on tampons was described by Quilliam researcher Muna Adil as “misogynistic, bigoted, and misinformed”.
The school has said the tampon guidance is now under review.
Al-Hiraj headteacher Arshad Mohammed said: “The guidance regarding the use of tampons is part of our sex education policy and is information relating to personal hygiene for pupils.
“At no point has this had any connection to faith. However, this is being reviewed at the next governors meeting to decide whether this is the most practical and up-to-date information to be teaching our students.”
Cllr Bennett said that the guidance on tampons could only be an issue of faith.