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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Muslim school defends its record
The Imam Muhammad Zakariya school
The school has been criticised for teaching standards
The headteacher of a private Muslim school has put faith in Allah that it will be saved.

The Imam Muhammad Zakariya school for girls has defended its teaching methods following criticism.

In May, the school was given three months to improve its teaching standards or face closure.

Headteacher Gaye Nicholson said she hoped the school would not be forced to close its doors A decision on its fate has been eagerly awaited.

Education inspectors produced a damning report last year on the standard of teaching at the school.

It revealed the teachers were very young and had no childcare or teaching qualifications.

Zuber Karim
People could think that a Muslim school could be a training ground for terrorists but that is not true
Zuber Karim
Teacher at the school

Lessons were poor and the girls were rarely allowed out.

HMIE officials said in their follow-up report there were still no qualified teachers apart from in maths and English at the school, which has 16 girls, most of whom are boarders.

The school said at the time it welcomed the report and was confident of meeting the requirements.

Since then it has tried to improve by recruiting some qualified staff and organising excursions.

Zuber Karim, a teacher at the school, said on Friday that it had an unfair reputation.

'Promoting citizenship'

"People could think that a Muslim school could be a training ground for terrorists but that is not true," he said.

"We find that Muslim schools nowadays are promoting good citizenship and are promoting a better understanding of people and communities around them.

"We're looking to make our pupils understand that we are one single family living in Britain."

One pupil said conditions at the school had improved.

"We come here to learn and we do a range of subjects like psychology, biology, English and maths," she said.

"We might not be doing as much as normal schools, but we've got enough."

Ms Nicholson said she was unsure if the school would avert closure.

But she added: "I would like to hope so, but then I think it's in the power of the gods or Allah."

The Scottish Executive is due to reveal whether it believes the school should remain open.

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