The leaders of an “Islamic learning centre”, that taught only Muslims were saved by God during the biblical flood, have become the first-ever in the UK convicted for operating an illegal and unregistered school in England.
Headteacher Beatrix Bernhardt, 38, and director Nacerdine Talbi, 47, were convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of running the Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in Southall, west London.
The centre claimed it only provided tuition to home-schooled children, but it is was found that many of the 60 children who attended, aged between five and 11, received most of their education there.
Photographs of lesson plans and homework diaries taken by inspectors showed the centre was being run like a school.
Other images in the press show the school had taught children that only “Muslims and animals” were saved on Noah’s ark, The Metro reports.
Updated Judgment in Talbi and Bernhardt delivered by Chief Magistrate https://t.co/6folBrmMr2
— Judgments (@WestminsterDJMC) October 24, 2018
The convicted pair were each given a three-month curfew and ordered to pay a total of £970 towards costs and the school will be fined £100.
HM Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman welcomed the verdict and said that it sent an important message to other unregistered schools.
Some religious and unregistered schools deny children a proper education and leave them at risk of harm and even radicalisation, she said.
Lynette Woodrow, from the Crown Prosecution Service, added: “This is the first prosecution of its kind against an unregistered school in England and Wales.
An unregistered school in #London has become the first in the country to be prosecuted for operating illegally. Two staff members were convicted following a @cpsuk prosecution after an @Ofstednews investigation: https://t.co/rxBfVHIvqY #unregisteredschools pic.twitter.com/ZL8eEUPmH1
— CPS (@cpsuk) October 24, 2018
“The centre claimed it simply provided tuition to home-schooled children but using witness statements and photographic evidence collected by Ofsted inspectors, the CPS was able to prove this was not the case.
“It is a criminal offence to run an unregistered school and we will take steps to prosecute those responsible where there is the evidence to do so.”
National Secular Society education and schools officer Alastair Lichten commented: “Schools with narrow curricula or aimed at preparing pupils only for life within a specific religious community, critically undermine children’s rights to an open future.
“In independent schools the right balance needs to be struck between school autonomy and protecting children’s rights. No such balance can exist when ‘schools’ operate completely outside regulatory oversight.”
School taken over by government https://t.co/EIEEVWFWed
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 17, 2017