Date: 06/02/2015


An Islamic school whose public funds were allegedly sent to Pakistan has run up debts of almost �3 million, it has emerged.

Pupils at the troubled Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham were forced to eat their meals on the floor after the school failed to provide basic facilities, appoint enough teachers or introduce a new national curriculum.

It was alleged last year that public funding earmarked for dining tables and chairs was instead sent to Pakistan.

The school was placed in special measures last May, when it was branded "inadequate" in a damning Ofsted report.

A month later, the whole governing body was sacked after financial troubles, including a �600,000 budget deficit from the last financial year, were revealed and a new interim board took over.

Birmingham City Council is investigating claims that the trust might have used public money to help fund a �1 million boys-only school 5,000 miles away in Pakistan.

The Government-backed interim executive board (IEB) that took over running the school has been tackling "a number of financial irregularities".

The council said current �3 million deficit was "due to the financial situation we inherited� and was likely to rise as the school environment was improved.

The scale of the voluntary-aided school's woes were laid bare as the board revealed that the new leadership had since had to buy �12,000 of dining tables and chairs after finding pupils had been eating meals while sat on the floor.

Parents were also told that more than �32,000 had to be spent on pupil safeguarding, including secure external doors and working CCTV.

Following a full structural survey of the site, a �16,000 electrical fault was uncovered, while engineers found "serious issues" with the school's badly leaking roof, which could cost up to �500,000 to fix.

Around �9,000 had to be spent on a security system for its library after �4,000 worth of books had "gone missing".

The school has also had to pay �15,000 towards new curriculum materials and training, including the hire of a consultant.

It emerged last year in a letter from the then-executive head teacher, Graham Hardy, that before they were pushed out, the old school governors renegotiated the site lease from a peppercorn rate of �1 up to �300,000.

They are also paying �170,000 for six "unbearably hot" portable cabins used as classrooms, which need �20,000 worth of air conditioning units.

Mr Hardy said the rent was payable annually to the Al-Hijrah Trust, which manages the site, and that "the money is taken from the budget allocated by the local authority to employ teachers and provide resources".

The annual budget for running the school is �3 million, which is Government money passed on to Al-Hijrah through the council.

The council said that repayment of the deficit was the school's responsibility although it was included in the city council's overall accounts.

The Al-Hijrah website describes it as "an Islamic school providing high quality education for 4-16-year-olds".

The school, in the Bordesley Green area, caters for 800 pupils, most of whom are of Pakistani origin. The senior school receives more than 1,000 applications for 60 places a year.