Iranian school in London that sparked antisemitism fears served with closure notice

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Iranian school in London that sparked antisemitism fears served with closure notice

EXCLUSIVE: Department for Education confirms a 'deregistration notice' sent to School of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Brent.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

In July 2022, an IRGC-affiliated music-video production titled “Salute Commander” was recorded on UK soil, including on the premises of the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Queens Park, North London (YouTube)
In July 2022, an IRGC-affiliated music-video production titled “Salute Commander” was recorded on UK soil, including on the premises of the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Queens Park, North London (YouTube)

A north London Iranian school where children were filmed allegedly being encouraged to use antisemitic Islamist chants in the playground has been served with a closure notice, Jewish News can reveal.

The Department for Education has confirmed it has issued the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran with a deregistration notice, adding: “The safety and education of our children and young people is paramount.”

The independent school for boys and girls aged six-to-16, located in Queens Park in the borough of Brent, is appealing the decision.

But a follow-up inspection by Ofsted inspectors, the results of which have just been published, has once again rated standards at the institution as “inadequate”.

Inspectors also noted that the Department of Education’s register of educational establishments in England and Wales had previously named the headteacher as the school’s sole proprietor.

But Ofsted now confirm that “the proprietor body is the Embassy of Iran in London.”

Asked to comment on the findings of their latest inspection, an Ofsted spokesperson said:”We do not comment on individual inspection reports, rather we let them speak for themselves.”

Confirming that a deregulation notice had been issued against the school, which is located only minutes away from two thriving synagogues, a Department of Education spokesperson told Jewish News: “The safety and education of our children and young people is paramount.

“The School of the Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to meet the independent school standards therefore we issued a de-registration notice which has been appealed against.

“In line with the law, the school will remain open until the appeals process is resolved.”

Children in the playground in video

Last year, former prime minister Tony Blair’s think-tank produced evidence that appeared to show children in the the playground of the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran declaring their willingness to join the so-called 313 special fighters of the 12th Imam.

Expert analysis of the children’s chants, which were filmed in July claimed they were singing about an apocalyptic conflict against the infidels, when, according to the Iranian regime’s ideology, a great leader known as the Mahdi will return to Earth. But only once the Jewish state of Israel had been obliterated.

In the same video, which was also filmed at the nearby Islamic Centre of England in Maida Vale, children are shown pledging allegiance to Iran’s supreme leader.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ali Khamenei, November 23, 2015 in Tehran, Iran.

The Blair Institute said the July 2022 film was for an Islamic Republican Guard Corps (IRGC) affiliated music-video production titled “Salute Commander” which included footage recorded on the premises of the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The UK government has so far resisted calls to proscribe the IRGC, established by Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran as a military branch in May 1979, as a terror organisation in this country.

Jewish News has spoken with several members of the community living in Queens Park who openly raised concerns about the school, and the video evidence of antisemitic chanting, with their local MP Tulip Siddiq.

They all praised the Labour MP’s willingness to take up the matter on their behalf.

In March, the Jewish Chronicle revealed that the school had been referred to the Department for Education (DfE) counter-extremism division.

Kasra Aarabi, the head of the Iran Programme at the Tony Blair Institute, told the JC that the “cult” of Mahdi doctrine is now driving Iranian regime policy and its attempts to radicalise Shia Muslims.

“It is antisemitic to its core”, he said, “because it holds that before the Mahdi can return, Israel must be destroyed and all the world’s Jews put to death”.

His report for Blair’s institute added:“The fact that an IRGC-affiliated video that has been created to indoctrinate children was recorded on UK soil is particularly alarming because it indicates the guard has established a homegrown support base.”

Another damning Ofsted inspection published in February had also rated the school as “inadequate”, adding its safeguarding policies and practice were “not effective”.

It has received the same “inadequate” rating since 2017.

The School of the Islamic Republic of Iran in north London

Jewish News understands that the the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran was issued with a de-registration notice on 15 March.

This notice, in effect, required the school to no longer provide full-time education as it is an offence to run a school without registration.

The notice would have come into force within 28 days (13 April) unless appealed against.

An appeal was subsequently received allowing the school to remain open until the appeals process was resolved, under the Education and Skills Act of 2008.

But an additional inspection by Ofsted into the school was subsequently conducted on 19 September, the results of which were published on 13 November, which concluded “The school does not meet all of the overall outcome independent school standards that were checked during this inspection.”

All independent schools must meet the Independent School Standards or face action and ultimately closure.

Jewish News has contacted the School of the Islamic Republic of Iran for comment.

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