THE headteacher of Portsmouth’s first independent Islamic faith school has spoken of the school’s progress.
The Madani Academy, in Buckland, opened in September 2014 with just 18 pupils. In 2015 this number grew to 25, and now the school is preparing to take on another 15 pupils taking its total up to 40.
Headteacher Luthfur Rahman said: ‘We are progressing. It is a small school, we have three classes – KS1, lower KS2 and upper KS2. It is small but we are making good progress. We expected it to be a slow start.
‘At the moment we are using 25 per cent of the building. If we grow then we will open up more rooms.’
The school had its first Ofsted inspection in February last year, which graded it overall as ‘requires improvement’.
Mr Rahman said: ‘Our Ofsted inspection happened after we had been open for 15 weeks. There were positive points, it said our curriculum was broad and balanced, but how can we be excellent at proving our systems after just 15 weeks? I am positive that the next one will be good or even outstanding.’
The school faced backlash when it first opened, with protests held by the English Defence League outside. It has also seen hate attacks take place, such as having a pig’s head tied to the gate and its windows smashed.
Mr Rahman said: ‘There were a few incidents and some people always think in the negative but there were a lot of people who rallied around us. They will see their efforts returned in the future.’
The school has seen support from the community, which raised the £300,000 deposit it needed to secure the former office block from Portsmouth City Council.
The school, which charges £2,000 per child a year, is still fundraising for the remaining cash it needs to buy the building outright and finish it.
Mr Rahman said: ‘We need the community to come forward with donations so that we can finish the building. Our priority is to get the building fully finished.
‘It will bring the community together. People will see the positive difference the Madani Academy has had in our children when they grow up and contribute to the community and country.
‘I am very grateful for the support we have received so far.
‘When I see children of other faiths and backgrounds at the Madani Academy, that’s when I know we have been a success.’