Unregistered school prosecuted in legal first

|News

The Crown Prosecution Service has successfully brought its first prosecution against an unregistered independent school in England and Wales.

Head teacher Beatrix Bernhardt, 38, and director Nacerdine Talbi, 47, were convicted of running the Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre in Southall, west London, following a three-day trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which concluded today (Wed 24 Oct).

The court heard how Ofsted inspectors visited the centre based inside a three-storey office block along Uxbridge Road on two separate occasions on 12 October and 14 November in 2017. They found more than 50 children between five and 11 years old being taught at the centre.

Photographs of lesson plans and homework diaries taken by Ofsted inspectors showed that the centre was being run as a school. It is contrary to the Education and Skills Act 2008 to run a full-time educational establishment that has not been registered as a school with the Department for Education.

Lynette Woodrow, from the CPS, said:

“This is the first prosecution of its kind against an unregistered school in England and Wales. The centre claimed it simply provided tuition to home-schooled children but using witness statements and photographic evidence collected by Ofsted inspectors, the CPS was able to prove this was not the case.

“It is a criminal offence to run an unregistered school and we will take steps to prosecute those responsible where there is the evidence to do so.”

Sentencing will take place in due course.

Notes to editors

Mr Nacerdine Talbi [DOB 24/09/71] who was the centre’s director was convicted of:
•    Conducting an unregistered independent educational institution, contrary to section 96(1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

Ms Beatrix Bernhardt [DOB 26/03/80] who acted as the centre’s head teacher was convicted of:
•    Conducting an unregistered independent educational institution, contrary to section 96(1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

The Al-Istiqamah Learning Centre Limited was convicted of:
•    Conducting an unregistered independent educational institution, contrary to section 96(1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008.

Lynette Woodrow is Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for the Complex Casework Unit in CPS London South.

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