Two pupils at Fulwood Academy secondary school in Preston have desecrated the Quran.
In a letter to parents yesterday, school leaders said the incidents happened last week and the matter has been refereed to the police and the Prevent counter extremism programme.
The two pupils involved have been suspended.
Below is the letter in full:
Fulwood Academy is a place where we strive to develop a culture of respect so that every child can achieve and become individuals our community can be proud of. At the end of last week, however, there were two separate incidents at the school that sit deeply at odds with everything we stand for.
For reasons that we are yet to fully understand, it appears that two students from different year groups brought copies of the Quran to the school, and desecrated the holy book in front of a number of other students.
Actions such as this are abhorrent, and have no place in any community. We immediately notified the Police and Prevent, and we have been working closely with them over the last few days. They have started their own processes of looking into these appalling incidents. While we do not know what the outcome of that process will be, as we understand it, charging decisions for issues like this lie with the Crown Prosecution Service rather than the Police. This means it is likely to take longer to conclude.
We can also confirm that both students have been suspended while these investigations are underway. Sanctions from the school will be reviewed and determined once the Police have concluded their work.
In addition, immediately after the acts, we spoke to the students who witnessed these actions, and also their families, to explain what had happened and offer our support.
While clearly there need to be ramifications for those involved, it is also vital that we understand what caused these acts, which we have never seen in our school before, to take place as they have.
We cannot do this alone. We are working with the Police, and have already contacted all the appropriate authorities. Above all, however, we have reached out to local Imams to ask for their support in helping us respond to this. We are deeply aware that that we need to heal the hurt that has undoubtedly been caused, and look at what we can do to support all members of the Fulwood Academy community.
We will, of course, keep you updated about this over the next few days as things progress. It is not our intention to hide or shy away from these acts, and we can assure everyone that we will work together to further strengthen our community and build on our deep commitment to inclusion, diversity and equality.
Dave Lancaster, Principal
Joan Dean, Chair of Governors
Lancashire Police has confirmed it is investigating the incidents as potential hate crimes.
A police spokesman said: “We are aware of two isolated incidents which took place earlier this week and we are working closely with the school to address these matters. Our enquiries are very much ongoing.
“Everyone in our county should be allowed to live their lives free from harassment and the fear of hate crime. Hate crime causes great distress to its victims and we are committed to investigating all crimes and incidents motivated by hate, supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice.”
In its last Ofsted inspection in 2019 Fulwood Academy was deemed to be an “inadequate” school that required special measures.
Ofsted found that pupils’ academic performance was weak and outcomes for disadvantaged pupils were exceptionally poor.
The report said: “Senior leaders, including governors and trustees, have allowed the quality of education to fall to an unacceptable standard. Leaders have not created a culture in which pupils feel safe or are safe. Pupils, parents and carers report many incidents of bullying that are not tackled effectively by staff. Alongside this, there are high levels of very poor behaviour throughout the school. Pupils’ learning is routinely disrupted by extremely poor behaviour.”