Ofsted denied access to 'closed' private school site

A private school that told the government it had closed down may still be in operation, Ofsted has warned, after it was denied access to the school’s site.

The Islamic Preparatory School Wolverhampton has been rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted twice since May 2017.

The proprietor and headteacher of the school told the Department for Education on September 23 it had closed down at the end of the summer term, but inspectors who visited the site two days later found the school appeared to still be operating.

An emergency inspection report, published online by Ofsted on Monday, noted that the proprietor Rashid Raja met with inspectors outside of the school and said the school no longer needed to be registered because its 11 pupils receive four hours of tuition delivered from Monday to Thursday.

The report said the lead inspector was “denied entry to the school”. However, it noted that pupils “were observed entering and leaving the school building” and that a tutor confirmed the amount of education provided.

“It is likely that the pupils receive the majority of their education at this school,” the report said.

“From the available evidence during this inspection, it would appear that the school is still operating. This contradicts information sent to the DfE by the proprietor.”

It also said the lead inspector was unable to check if the school is implementing a suitable safeguarding policy.

Under British law, schools must be registered if they provide full-time education to five or more pupils of compulsory school age, but there is no legal definition of what constitutes full-time education.

DfE guidance states settings that provide education for at least 18 hours a week are “generally” considered to be operating full-time, but this has been taken by some to be a hard-and-fast rule, leading to confusion.

The school, which does not have a website, is based in a converted Victorian residential building on the same site as Wolverhampton Central Mosque.

The school had a full inspection in February, where it was rated ‘inadequate’ with concerns raised about “weak” knowledge and understanding of safeguarding procedures and the fact that “health and safety hazards are not always identified”.

Teaching was said to have improved, but was still not “consistently good”. On the second day of the inspection, the headteacher refused to allow the lead inspector onto the premises, something the report said was “unacceptable”.

It was also rated ‘inadequate’ in May 2017, when inspectors flagged concerns about teaching and safeguarding.

Ofsted declined to comment on the report, and Raja did not respond to a request for comment.