The Birmingham head teacher of a local mosque has left his job to follow his dreams.
After helping open Qadria Mosque and serving as the head teacher for the madrasa for 9 years, Khalil Mohammed resigned from his job and opened his own school in just 5 days.
Khalil left his job as a head teacher to open Al Fatiha community school in St. Paul’s Community school due to “a conflict in interests and the inability to fully express [himself].”
The girls class of students reciting Quran
“I felt it was the right time to move. Being a head teacher under someone else’s leadership I had a lot of restraints, I couldn’t fully flourish, there is so much more to be done for the community.”
Khalil said that the transition was easy due to the support:
“90% of the students and staff followed us here, we have a broad range of children that come here with different backgrounds and abilities, the new space has meant we’re able to do so much more.”
Younger boys learning about Islam
Khalil, the primary school teacher by day, says he never had this planned but as soon as he left he knew what he wanted to do.
“I had no plans at all, I didn’t want to leave, but it was the right time to move. As soon as I left the parents I dealt with were contacting me daily, telling me they left their children in my care, and they want me to be accountable for their education. I felt responsible. They told me that the children and them would follow me to whatever school I next went to.”
Left to right top: Kasim; student, Mohammed Khalil; owner, Faize; student, Farah; deputy head. Bottom left to right: Adam;student, Amyrah; student, Ameera; student.
Khalil says he contacted a few schools for evening space to run his school, and after viewing St. Paul’s community school he felt like it was the perfect space.
“It was a collaborative effort. The community was very helpful. I had the building on the 31st of August. The 1st of September we had our open day. 4 days later we were open.”
The school, which runs from 5pm-7pm Monday to Friday and is considered a faith school, is privately owned and run by Khalil. It is common for Muslim children to attend after school classes to learn Quran, so Khalil wanted to go that extra bit to offer something new and different.
“Follow your dreams. If your heart is clean and your intentions are clear you will make it. I had clear intentions to only benefit the community and the children. I believe after hardship there is always ease.”
Through the interview a few children walked in to say hello to Khalil, who was off for two days due to illness. It was apparent that he is a loved head teacher who listens to his students.
Students left to right: Muneeb, Harris, Umaiyrah.
Khalil said: “We have many future plans, we want to open more clubs, register the school as a charity to help the community, and grow the school.”
Khalil talked about the “overwhelming feedback” he’s gotten back from the parents and staff. Khalil said: “They have been contacting me to tell me how happy and satisfied they are with their children’s education and the new space.”
A fraction of the staff, Left to right: Asma, Farah, Zainab, Mohammed Khalil, Hassan.
“The staff supported me rather the other way round to open the school. They inspired me to do this.”
Khalil says he opened his new school with clear aims, to offer children the same, if not a higher level of education offered by state and private schools, while offering Islamic teachings and clubs such as henna and nasheed recitation.
Faize Ilyas, one of the students, spoke to me about how the school has supported him “The teachers here are really good, I can talk to them about anything and they really help you.”
Waheeda, another student praised the staff for offering her support,
“I can come to them with anything. They talk to you about issues and society I feel much more comfortable talking to them than I do to my [secondary] school teachers.”
Khalil says that the school is completely “self-sufficient”. They use the fees the children pay monthly for enrol of £20 per student and put it back into the school.
They receive no funding from the council, but hope to get support soon. Khalil wants the school to be a vision of the future, with interactive white boards and state of the art equipment for the children.
“The ownership of the school is to the children” said Khalil.
Just two months after opening the school already boasts over 100 students, 9 classes and 15 teachers, with after school clubs taking place on Fridays.