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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
'Last chance' for Muslim school
Imam Muhammad Zakariya school
The school will be closed unless standards improve
Staff at a private Muslim school have been given three months to bring teaching up to standard.

The Imam Muhammad Zakariya school in Dundee was warned more than a year ago that it would face closure unless improvements were made.

Inspectors said it had still not done enough to tackle the problems.

Education Minister Peter Peacock said the school has been "unsatisfactory for too long". It had now been given a "last chance".

The inspectors' report said: "Overall, the school had not addressed sufficiently the concerns with regard to educational leadership, learning and teaching and the quality of the secular curriculum for all pupils."

They found progress was "good" in a quarter of the areas where action was needed.

'Unsatisfactory leadership'

Inspectors discovered last year that although there was a friendly atmosphere with well-meaning staff none was qualified in teaching or childcare, with the exception of the headteacher.

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

But HMIE officials have said in their follow-up report there are still no qualified teachers apart from in maths and English at the school, which has 18 girls, most of whom are boarders.

The quality of learning and teaching in some cases was poorer than they found a year ago and the management and leadership of the school continued to be unsatisfactory.

New headteacher

The report will go to the Registrar of Independent Schools Scotland to decide on the fate of the school.

The newly-appointed head of the school, Gaye Nicolson, said she was confident the school would meet the challenge.

Her appointment in March meant action was already being taken on leadership issues raised in the report.

Ibrahim Okahi
Businessman Ibrahim Okahi has offered his support to the school

"We have addressed quite a lot of the issues raised in the report and we are already well on the way to raising the standard of teaching and learning and to extending the curriculum," she said.

Osama Saeed, Scottish spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Britain, said: "There aren't really any broader lessons from the Imam Zakariya school affair apart from the fact that the school itself needs to improve."

Meanwhile, Dundee businessman Ibrahim Okahi has said he is prepared to step in to help with the funding and running of the school.

He said: "If the inspectors looked at what has been achieved and give a little extra time, with my involvement, I feel we can get it done, but three months is not enough."

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