Al-Noor Primary Schools

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Al-Noor Primary Schools's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Al-Noor Primary Schools is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Executive Headteacher
Someera Butt
Al-Noor Primary Schools - front
facade and main entrance
Al-Noor Primary Schools is a family of two, co-gender
primary schools located in the London Borough of
Redbridge. With one being run as an independent
and the other a maintained school, both operate from the
same building, working side by side in an attempt to achieve
excellent outcomes for children. Executive Headteacher Someera
Butt tells
The Parliamentary Review
how they make such an
unconventional structure work for their community.
In order to address social ills experienced by the local Muslim communities of East
London, a group of concerned citizens decided in 1997 to open a school to help
nurture upright individuals and contributors to society. A charity was registered, funds
were raised, volunteers were recruited and in 2002 a one-form-entry independent
primary school was opened in Goodmayes, Ilford, in a converted garment factory.
Over time, the founding group became the Al-Noor Foundation, a registered
charity whose vision is to “nurture individuals, families and communities that truly
understand and accept their purpose of being in this world, confidently living and
working together for a just, responsible and compassionate society”.
The independent school kept fees low to make it accessible to people from a wide
range of socio-economic backgrounds. However, this meant that salaries were
below market rates and retention became problematic. To address this, as well as
to open the school to families that could not afford the fees, the board of trustees
decided to apply to open a maintained school.
Adapting and growing
In 2014, the board submitted an application to open a two-form-entry voluntary
aided primary. Thus, a new purpose-built school building opened in 2018 with
»Executive Headteacher:
Someera Butt
»Founded in 1997 with the
first school, an Independent
opened in 2002 and the latest,
a Voluntary Aided, Maintained
school, opened in 2018
»Located in London Borough of
Redbridge: Ilford, Essex
»Type of school: Independent,
co-gender, 1 form entry
primary & Voluntary Aided, co-
gender, 2 form entry, primary
»No. of students:
Independent: 81
Voluntary Aided: 240
»Ofsted (2019): “It is pupils’
capacity for empathy, hard
work, laughter and ambition
that singles them out.”
(Independent school)
Al-Noor Primary Schools
Highlighting best practice
reception and year 1 classes. Thereafter
the two schools have operated in
parallel from the same site, as there
is spare capacity until the maintained
school grows to full size in 2023.
People are at the heart of both schools’
vision. We strive to inspire and nurture
staff so they can aim for excellence
and high expectations, with excellent
learning and development at the heart
of that. A commitment to continuous
high-quality professional development
and school improvement is key to this.
It has led to the development of a
sought-after Independent, lauded for
its positive impact on pupil character,
learning and development. The
maintained school has adopted the
learning of the independent, and the
two work together to ensure high
standards across both schools.
The most recent Ofsted report for the
independent graded pupil behaviour
and attitudes as well as pupil personal
development as “outstanding”, noting:
“Pupils told us that they love coming
to this school. Teachers encourage
all pupils to be their best. As well as
aiming for academic excellence, pupils
aim to become strong British Muslim
Although not required, the
independent has participated in key
stage tests and assessments since its
inception in which it has demonstrated
notable performance. In2019,atKey
Stage 2, 72 per cent of pupils attained
the expected standard, higher than 65
per cent nationally, while 91.5 per cent
of students at the maintained school
were at a good level of development at
the end of reception, compared with
71.9 per cent nationally. Furthermore,
97 per cent of the year 1 cohort
passed the phonics screening check,
despite high numbers of EAL families
and many pupils entering the school at
low educational starting points.
The success of the two schools can
be directly attributed to their faith
ethos and how closely this is shared
by families, as well as by staff and
governors. All are bound together by
a common faith-based aim to attain
God’s pleasure and reward. On the
part of parents, sending their children
to the school is mainly predicated on
a desire for their children to learn and
live the faith sincerely and well. On the
part of staff and governors, it is about
being part of an organisation that
seeks to serve God by nurturing the
faith and all-round positive outcomes
of the young.
The faith ethos has moulded the
school’s curriculum and nurtured
pupils’ spirituality. Pupils learn
the foundations of the faith
through reliable sources, ensuring
the development of a sound
understanding that builds resilience
against the siren calls of radicalisation.
They also learn first-hand that faith
and godliness require them to work for
the betterment of society, to support
the weak and vulnerable and to be
excellent neighbours and citizens.
Theory into practice
Our pupils live this in practice in a
variety of ways. The student council
works with the local Citizens Alliance
to learn how to engage with local
democracy to effect change for the
common good. This has flowered into
a campaign to have speed bumps
installed on the road outside the
school and led to pupils participating
Reception classes hard
at play and busy learning
A sought-after
lauded for its
impact on
learning and
in several events to celebrate
achievements, or to campaign for
change such as congratulating the
local authority when it became a living
wage provider.
Good citizenship is also endorsed
through initiatives such as The Faith
& Belief Forum’s School Linking
Programme where year 5 pupils work
with pupils from a local Catholic
school to promote understanding
and friendship. Through the school’s
annual Islam Awareness week the
same objective is achieved but with
a wider audience, as primary schools
across the borough are invited to
browse an exhibition put together
by the school and hosted by pupils.
Visitors from charities, different faiths
during national interfaith week and
professional backgrounds educate
pupils about key values they have
in common with people from all
backgrounds and the important role
they can play in society.
Faith for positive personal development
is also fostered through the school’s
“Navigate” character curriculum
which was developed by staff
and trustees. Through a focus on
essential characteristics for life,
pupils develop across their schooling
a range of attributes to help them
become upright individuals of
integrity, motivated by a belief in
accountability to God. A range of 17
characteristics are covered, including
those that would help children to
develop leadership qualities, such
as communication, ownership and
contribution, as well as those that
develop morality such as sincerity,
honesty, empathy and generosity.
The schools are also in the process
of planning and delivering a new
thematic approach to the curriculum,
based on the flagship “Harmony”
curriculum. The school has adapted
this ethos by promoting a connection
to God through reflection on the
natural world, while retaining its
original theme of environmental
sustainability. Environmental
sustainability is an important part of
Islamic citizenship, which views the
human being as God’s custodian of
the earth. The individual is charged
with thoughtful consumption while
sharing and protecting the resources
God has blessed and is testing us with.
The approach advances a cross-
curricular theme across curricular
subjects, which are planned around
key questions to answer during
lessons, so children own their learning
through enquiry. The curriculum is
underpinned by seven principles:
oneness, adaptation, cycles,
interdependence, diversity, health and
geometry. Each year group takes a
principle each half-term and reflects on
it while exploring answers to their key
questions. The national curriculum is
delivered with value added beyond its
prescription, and purpose is given to
pupil learning, enriching knowledge of
the world and cultural capital.
Looking ahead
We encourage our pupils to examine
the world they take for granted
around them. Through reflection on
the Divine miracles they observe, they
forge a devotion to God that can fuel
them through their lives. For example,
reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic
in this light, galvanises pupils as they
acknowledge its Divine root has
purpose. This reflection establishes a
profound faith that motivates pupils’
aspirations and actions so that they
leave a blessed mark on the world in
their wake.
Underpinned by a clearly articulated
purpose and strategic vision, I am
optimistic that the schools will,
God-willing, continue to grow from
strength to strength, becoming
trailblazers for others, thereby
continuing to nurture generations of
citizens who contribute positively to
the country and the communities in
which they live.
The success of
the two schools
can be directly
attributed to
their faith ethos
and how closely
this is shared by
families, as well
as by staff and
Year 6 visit
Snowdonia as part
of the curriculum for
their last half term at
the school

This article was sponsored by Al-Noor Primary Schools. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster