Father and daughter fined for running illegal primary school in Streatham

BY JAMES TWOMEY
james@slpmedia.co.uk

A ‘headteacher’ and her father have been found guilty of running an
illegal primary school that charged £4,500 per year per pupil.

Nadia Ali, her father Arshad Ali, and the company, Ambassadors High School, in Mitcham Lane, Streatham were convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 12

Ms Ali was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work, fined £1,000 and ordered to pay an £85 victim surcharge.

Mr Ali and the company were also fined and ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

It is only the second prosecution of its kind – conducting an unregistered independent school under section 96 of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

In June 2018, inspectors from Ofsted visited Ambassadors High School and warned Ms Ali that the school was operating illegally.

When inspectors returned a month later they found the school was still open and a second warning notice was issued.

In September 2018, Ambassadors High School applied to register as an independent school, with Nadia Ali’s father, Arshad Ali, named as the owner.
Ofsted carried out a pre-registration inspection in February 2019, which identified serious safeguarding issues and judged that the school would
not meet the Independent School Standards.

According to Ofsted, the school’s leaders had not carried out even the most basic suitability checks on teachers working at the school.

But the school remained open after failing its pre-registration inspection and continued to operate illegally.

The school charged fees of up to £4,500 per pupil, per year, but its record keeping on admissions and attendance was poor.

At the pre-registration inspection, inspectors were told there were 45 children of compulsory school age on the roll.

Inspectors observed different numbers of children at each inspection and were given different accounts of how many pupils were on roll.

Ofsted say their powers to investigate unregistered schools are severely limited, making prosecutions less likely to succeed.

Her majesty’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: “Ofsted is clear that unregistered schools deny children a proper education and put their safety and well-being at risk.

“I hope the judgment sends a clear message to these schools that Ofsted will not waver in our efforts to bring them to justice.

“We will continue to expose these places, and make sure they either close or become properly registered and subject to regular inspection.

“Only then can we make sure all children are safe from harm and receiving a decent education that prepares them for life in modern Britain.

“While I welcome the verdict, I am concerned that this case is just the tip of the iceberg.

“As I have said several times over the last few years, Ofsted urgently needs stronger investigatory powers, allowing us to seize evidence and
interview suspects.

“And we need the Government to tighten the legal definition of a school. I urge them again to do so at the earliest possible opportunity.”

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