Ilford headteacher banned from management roles after letting terrorist ‘radicalise’ school children

Eton Community School. Photo: Ken Mears

Eton Community School. Photo: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

An Ilford headteacher who let a London Bridge terrorist attempt to radicalise her primary school pupils has been banned from management roles.

Khuram Shazad Butt

Khuram Shazad Butt - Credit: Archant

Sophie Rahman of Eton Community School, Oxford Road, allowed Khuram Butt, 27, to deliver after-school classes about Jihad, the Qu’ran and non-believers for four months in 2017.

He taught the young children alone for two hours, up to three times a week and his final class was the day before he killed eight people and injured 48 in London on Saturday, June 3, 2017, with his accomplices Youssef Zaghba and Rachid Redouan.

Ms Rahman has now been barred from taking up management roles under Section 128 of the Education Act.

The direction means she is prevented from assuming leadership positions in independent schools, academies and by extension, governance positions in maintained schools.

The order also has the effect of disqualifying her from being a governor at a maintained school.

Ms Rahman had already been issued with a teacher prohibition order which means she is banned from the classroom for life.

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In June last year, a Teaching Regulation Agency professional conduct panel found she had failed to protect children and the wider public.

It also found that she misled, or attempted to mislead, the police and/or the local authority in relation to the number of children that attended Butt’s after-school classes on one or more occasions.

Ms Rahman also misled police about a relationship with a person referred to as ‘Individual S’, who was linked to a jihadist group.

He had been the proprietor of the school and belonged to Al-Muhajiroun before it became a banned organisation.

He was also the father of Ms Rahman’s children.

A Metropolitan Police witness told the panel that Individual S and Butt attended the same gym at Ummah Fitness Centre, St Luke’s Avenue, Ilford.

Individual S was part of the management of the gym, Butt worked at the gym and led prayers there, and the three terrorists met at the gym shortly before the attacks.

She also hired Butt even though he had a caution for a violent offence and provided no references.

“On the balance of probabilities, Ms Rahman knew or ought to have known or had a reasonable opportunity to become aware that Mr Butt was connected to members or former members of Al- Muhajiround, including Individual S,” the conduct panel report read.

“By her failure to safeguard her pupils’ interests, Ms Rahman left them potentially vulnerable to grooming for radicalisation.”

Details of the managment barring directive were published for the first time today (Tuesday, March 5).

A Department for Education spokesman said it decided to release the information as “Teachers, leaders and governors have a responsibility to keep children safe and Sophie Rahman failed to do that”.

“As part of our duty to prevent such individuals from working in our schools, we have issued this order today,” he added.

It is the fourth time powers under Section 128 have been exercised since it came into force in September 2014.

The first ever barring order was issued in 2015 to Tahir Alam, who was at the heart of the alleged Trojan Horse plot by hardline Muslims to take control of governing boards.

It said he engaged in conduct “aimed at undermining fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

In 2017, Waseem Yaqub, former chairman of governors at Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham, was found to have engaged in inappropriate conduct which made him “unsuitable to take part in the management of an independent school”.

The direction said: “In his various roles on Al-Hijrah’s governing body, Mr Yaqub promoted, permitted or failed to challenge inadequate financial monitoring and decision-making on the part of the governing body.”

Last month, convicted terrorist Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, an associate of Anjem Choudary, was barred under Section 128 of the Education Act.

He was previously a proprietor of the unregistered Siddeeq Academy in Tower Hamlets, east London, which closed in 2015 after his arrest.