Director of King Fahad Academy Answers Allegations

Statement from Sumaya Alyusuf over former teacher's claims

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There have been reports in national newspapers of claims by a former teacher at the King Fahad Academy School in Acton that the school's curriculum is "racist and divisive". Sumaya Alyusuf, Director of the school has issued a statement:

“I would like to make the following statement in response to the allegations contained in [yesterday's] article on the front page of the Evening Standard written by Tim Stewart entitled “Islamic School ‘teaches hate’”, which is now being disseminated elsewhere in the press.

"The Evening Standard failed to put any of the allegations to me or any member of the academy’s staff prior to publication. The allegations, made by a disgruntled ex employee, are grossly offensive, highly inflammatory and entirely false and without foundation. Not only that, these allegations have mischaracterized the students of being subjected to extremist education, an allegation that we categorically deny but fear may subject our students and teachers to risk .

"To this end, we hold Mr Cook responsible for any harm caused to our students or teachers as a result of his false allegations.

"The Academy denies all the allegations and wishes to stress in particular that it is not a racist institution, does not provide books describing Jews or Christians (or any religious group) in a derogatory manner whatsoever, does not promote anti-western views and actively condemns extremism, intolerance and discrimination.

"Teachers come from many nationalities and faiths, for instance the newly appointed head of the boys’ school is American. All teachers are expected to encourage interfaith understanding. The Academy does not ask prospective employees what their faith is as part of the recruitment process, this would be against our equal opportunity procedures.

"The Academy does not provide girls with an inferior education. As Director of the Academy, I ensure that all the students, regardless of gender, receive the same quality of education. In fact, two of Mr Cook’s daughters attended and graduated from the academy, the younger one graduated in June 2006 and the older is currently studying medicine. It is ironic that he today makes these absurd allegations.

"The Academy’s mission statement emphasizes the goal of enabling the Academy’s students to “become responsible and productive citizens who are able to appreciate the multicultural society in which we live.” Its ethos and philosophy are grounded in respect and tolerance. The official Academy philosophy documentation lists employing a holistic approach to education that provides students with the “skills needed for developing intercultural understanding, compassion and respect” as one of its main principles. Students are taught “to develop a balanced attitude, free of prejudice or extreme inclination in the matter of religion.”

"As Director of the Academy, I have recently been a speaker at two inter-faith conferences; the objective at both conferences was to bring about a change in pupils’ attitudes to conflict resolution and to teach pupils from different religious backgrounds how to focus on commonality and shared human values. The curriculum currently used at the Academy is an international curriculum taught in English, which is the main language of instruction. In fact, our curriculum encourages diversity and multi culturalism.. Academy students are exposed to all religions, not just Islam: for example a year 5 class assembly on 2 February dealt with the story of the Virgin Mary as seen from both Islamic and Christian perspectives. Recently the local vicar visited the school and we have asked that he comes back to talk to the children at a future date to answer any questions they have about Christianity.

"The 2006 Ofsted Inspection Report noted that the Academy: "provides its pupils with a balanced education and opportunities to develop their intellect and skills. The quality of teaching is mostly good, and, in each school, there is a trend towards improved quality with increasing ages of pupils. Pupils’ achievement and progress reflect the quality of the teaching. The introduction of the International Baccalaureate curriculum has required a change in the languages used for teaching and learning."

"At this time, we do not consider it appropriate to comment on Mr Cook’s employment matter, as his appeal hearing is this Thursday."

The Academy added that it takes allegations made by Mr Cook or his solicitor extremely seriously. The school is currently taking legal advice and reserves all of its rights in relation to any damage to its reputation as a result of these "false and misleading allegations".

February 6, 2007