Accusations of tax-payer money used by British Trust on school in Pakistan
Council officials are investigating claims that a Trust running a Birmingham school spent £1 million of tax payer’s money on a new school in Pakistan. Al-Hijrah school opened in 1999 and is based on Burbidge Road, Bordesley Green, it was the city’s only Islamic school at the time.
The school came under fire after being branded ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in May. A month later the entire governing body was fired after financial difficulties including a £900,000 budget deficit, after which a new interim board was brought in to take over.
They are now accused of using public money to fund a state-of-the-art school in the city of Ziarat in Pakistan. Additionally, although the Al-Hijrah school abroad is running well the Birmingham based school is in need of urgent attention.
A source said, “The school in Birmingham is falling apart, its roof is leaking and there is little space for outdoor play. Yet the Trust has used £1 million to build a new school in Pakistan. It beggars belief.”
Birmingham City Council confirmed investigations are now underway, a spokeswoman said, “We have gathered enough information to warrant further investigation into the use of public funds and we continue to work with the relevant statutory agencies. If we find anything criminal it will be referred to the police.”
A Department for Education spokesman added, “We are aware of these serious allegations which are being investigated by Birmingham City Council. We are liaising closely with them and continue to monitor the situation.
“The school is currently in special measures and we have approved the council’s choice of interim executive board.”
Al-Hijrah school and the Trust have failed to comment on the issue however claim on their website that the school in Ziarat, which opened in 2004, provides children with an environment in which they can “develop their Islamic principles”.
Also, teachers from Calthorpe Academy in Highgate have been sent in to Al-Hijrah in a “buddying” scheme in an attempt to “share best practice”. However it has been claimed that male and female pupils are still segregated, there are even separate staff rooms for teachers.
In July, the city council held an injunction banning former chairman of governors Waseem Yaqub from Al-Hijrah. Mr Yaqub was accused of harassment, trespassing and intimidation, claims he strongly denied. He has been issued with a High Court writ warning he faces a damages bill of up to £100,000 due to his behaviour.