When the Islamia School opened in 1983 it could only cater for a handful of children. But as time went on, the number of parents enrolling children into the school outgrew the buildings' capacity, and staff and pupils moved to its present location at Queens Park's Salusbury Road.
The school was founded by a interested Muslims, with one particular famous name attached: Yusuf Islam, who remains as the chairman of governors. He has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of Islam, founding one of the first Muslim charities, a Muslim publisher and of course the Islamia School which was the first Muslim Primary school in London.
The new site also meant it could house the Primary School as well as the Girls Secondary and Sixth Form. As this generated even more interest in parents, the school responded by opening an Infant and Junior School as well. After much lobbying, over a period of 15 years, the government finally granted the school state funding in 1998.
Today, the Islamia School consists of a Primary School, a Girls Secondary, a Boys Secondary and a Islamia Girls Sixth Form.
The aims and objectives behind the initiative of the school are to educate Muslim children according to the highest educational standards and principles of Islam. Good education is seen as essential for the children to enable them to live, work and study in Multi-cultural, multi-religious Britain.
The school has gone strength to strength, and out of 22 schools in the borough, Islamia has always been in the top 5; a great achievement for students, teachers and parents. Ayesha Hussain aged 12 notes, "The school is really good, every year the teachers try and make us get better grades than last year, and they are really nice and helpful."
Zaffar Asraf, the Administration officer for the school, explains that the school aims to promote individuals to be pious and to encourage students to contribute to society in a positive way also after leaving. This is enforced by shadowing certain pupils to see how they have progressed. Cultural Opportunities
All the four schools teach the National Curriculum, as well as specialist subjects, these being:
* Islamic Studies
The Schools prides itself on the subjects it offers its pupils, and the teaching staff makes sure Islamic culture and teachings from the Quran are integrated into all. Zaffar says "In science for example, when we teach about the water cycle, we pick quotes from the Quran where references are made that supports scientific theory. This way the kids are constantly reminded of their religion whilst being educated."
The school aims to provide Islamic education that is relevant to the global situation, giving a more in-depth understanding of who the children are and why Islam is an important facet of future society. The emphasis is to provide excellent education in an environment stemming from Islamic moral teachings.
This brings attention to the obvious benefits of single faith schools. Islamia not only met the needs of the Muslim community in North London, but also highlighted the parents right to choose the type of education suitable for their children. Zaffar says "The ethos to which all the students subscribe to helps create a nurturing and positive atmosphere."Religious Celebrations
During the holy month of Ramadan, the school closes early at 2.30pm, allowing children and parents to get home to eat and attend the mosque, and indeed, closes for the last ten days of the fasting month allowing families to spend quality time together and enjoy the festivities.
Congregational prayer sessions at the school are organised at 12pm everyday for the month which is announced on a loudspeaker by the Imam who leads the prayers for the pupils and the staff. He is also responsible for making sure the school adheres to the academic and social standards set.