Islamic charity in Walsall under scrutiny for “serious and ongoing concerns”

The Abu Bakr Trust, with its headquarters based on Wednesbury Road in Walsall, is under investigation by the Charity Commission due to “serious and ongoing concerns”.

One of the schools ran by the Abu Bakr organisation

For approximately 20 years, the charity organisation has provided the Muslim community of Walsall with educational opportunities, currently overseeing four independent schools, a mosque, and other educational facilities.

Alongside failure to adhere to filing deadlines for annual returns, the Charity Commission are looking into whether trustees have fulfilled their legal obligations and duties in accordance with charity law.

Via the UK government website, the inquiry will examine:

  • The trustees’ governance and management of the Abu Bakr Trust, including their failure to ensure annual returns are filed on time.
  • The charity’s financial management, including its level of debt.
  • Whether the trustees have properly exercised their legal duties and responsibilities under charity law.
  • The extent of misconduct and/or mismanagement within the administration of the charity by its current and former trustees.

Walsall School Children Donate 48 Christmas Eve Boxes

Children at Hydesville Tower School in Walsall have put together 48 Christmas Eve boxes filled with gifts for children in emergency care.


These wonderful Christmas gifts are the work of all Hydesville pupils – from Nursery to Year 11 – who collectively donated the contents, which will be delivered to local children who have fled domestic violence.

The children have also raised £166.30, which will be donated to the Salvation Army.

French teacher Mrs Dhabba said: “I would like to thank the Wellbeing Ambassadors for their support in organising the boxes, and in particular to Year 9 girls Ayesha, Jessica, Ore and Safiya for giving up their lunch times to check contents and to label them correctly.  An amazing effort by everyone, thank you to parents, staff and children! “

Recently, pupils at the school also donated ‘bags of love’ to a women’s refuge.

Hydesville Tower School Rated As One Of Top Nurseries in West Midlands

Hydesville Tower School has been awarded the accolade of being one of the top 20 nurseries in the West Midlands.

nursery walsall

The award was given by nurseries reviews site,, based on reviews from carers and families.

Reviews were assessed based on various key areas within an early years setting, including:

  • Overall standards
  • Facilities and outside space
  • Learning
  • Resources, equipment and ICT
  • Care
  • Activities
  • Staff
  • Food and nutrition
  • Management
  • Cleanliness
  • Safeguarding
  • Value for money

Amanda Hopkins, reviews manager of, said: “We would like to congratulate Hydesville Tower School on being rated by parents as a top nursery in the West Midlands! Being chosen as one of the best nurseries in the UK by family and carers of children that attend the setting is a massive achievement.

top rated walsall nursery

“The past year has been a huge challenge for nurseries, many of whom were offering childcare to vulnerable and keyworker children during the various lockdowns and giving children that all important ‘normality’. We hope these awards will boost the spirits of nursery staff who have been through such a lot and give parents vital guidance in choosing the right nursery for their child.

“Reviews of our Top 20 nurseries show these settings stimulate and nurture children, improving their social and emotional wellbeing and enhancing their learning.”

Mrs Sam Smith, Head of Hydesville Nursery, said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award. It is a huge honour to be recognised and this is testament to the hard work and dedication of the Nursery team. We are lucky to have such wonderful children and parents at Hydesville.”

To find out more about availability at Hydesville Nursery for children aged 3 and 5, contact the Admissions Team on: 01922 624374,

Schools Merger Plan In Major Shake-Up To Education

A wide-ranging public consultation has been launched on proposals to merge Q3 Academies Trust and The Mercian Trust.

queen mary's girl's school

Q3 Academies Trust is currently responsible for governing Q3 Academy in Great Barr, Q3 Academy Langley and Q3 Academy in Tipton.

The Mercian Trust is currently responsible for governing Aldridge School, Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Queen Mary’s High School, Shire Oak Academy, The Ladder School and Walsall Studio School.

All Mercian schools and Q3 Academies are part of the proposed MAT merger which will see them become part of the same family of schools governed by one charitable trust.

In a consultation document on the envisaged merger the Trusts state the ‘ambitious plans’ set out an exciting future for students, staff, and for the school and local communities as a whole.

In its consultation document leaders of the Trusts say they are focused on accelerating the pace of school improvement is important to ensure no students are left behind and this would be facilitated by focusing on its combined resources on shared needs and priorities.

queen mary's grammar school

The Trusts also believe the merger would have great benefits for its staff, including providing better career progression opportunities, creating the right environment for staff to share knowledge, understanding expertise and resources to improve outcome for students, and maintaining and enhancing the schools’ reputation with external stakeholders, including parents, employers and regulatory bodies.

Some of the hoped advantages of the merger include;

  • Creating a broader school curriculum offer, including in post-16 education, that further develops students, preparing them for the world of work.
  • Drive improvement, support and innovation in all the 9 MAT schools.
  • Responding to the teacher recruitment and retention challenge by providing better career opportunities for staff.
  • Grow in size and significance for the benefit of students, staff and the local communities served.

Under the proposed merger the names of each individual schools would remain the same. The MAT (a single charitable trust) would be called The Mercian Trust, but each of the Q3 academies will remain and maintain the Q3 name.

Written by Craig Winyward.

Great Barr Comp – The Largest In The Country, The Fondest Memories …

Great Barr CompGreat Barr Comp was, until 2009, the largest single-site comprehensive school in the country with over 2,400 pupils on roll. We spoke with John Slatford, a pupil at the Comp (now an academy) in its early days, and here he shares his memories. His time there helped him forge an exciting science-based career that took him all over the world so, now aged 74 and still living locally, he recalls why it was ‘such a great school’.

“My first knowledge of the existence of Great Barr Comprehensive School was in 1957. I’d passed part one of the 11-plus at my junior school in Turfpits Lane. That brought with it a choice for my Secondary education.

“I dismissed the idea of Grammar school with what I considered its narrow arts-based curriculum as my interest was the sciences. Luckily a teacher at my junior school was aware of a ‘new type of school’ that had just been built locally. He thought it would be ‘ideal for me’

“So I sat and passed part two of the 11-plus at Great Barr Comp itself – a school which was otherwise just outside my ‘catchment area’. Prior to sitting the exam, we were given a tour of the school which was mind-blowing as I’d never seen anything like it before!

“I started in September 1958 in class 1.2 with Pat Tullet as my Form Teacher. All the pupils were assigned a House. Mine was Priestly. The other Houses were Boulton, Fry and Nightingale. The curriculum was varied, and for the first time I had to listen to the teacher and write down what she said or copy it from the blackboard.

“Once I moved to the second year we were put in a form and a ‘set’ for various subjects. Internal exams in all subjects were taken three times a year. This meant every pupil had a bespoke timetable of lessons depending on ability. My interest was science which was so well catered for – eleven specialist laboratories!

“Very special about the school was the after-school activities.  I joined the Photographic Club, Film Club, History Society, Rambling Club and Visual Aids Society. This meant staying on at school until about 9:30 every evening. We were allowed two hours to do our homework in one of the science laboratories, which suited me. I was also in the Cross Country Running Team and ran for the school at weekends. Luckily there was a disused quarry across the road from the Comp used for cross country running practice. The Rambling Club took place each month on a Sunday and we were only allowed to ramble if we had the proper equipment.

“As one of three pupils recruited for the Visual Aids Society I was taught how to use and maintain the school’s projectors and to show films to the various clubs. We had an active Drama Department and we’d put on Gilbert and Sullivan Operas – giving me a lifelong love of their music and comedy.

“During the six-week holiday a group of boys would be taken Youth Hostelling in Britain and Switzerland. I was lucky enough to go on holidays to the Lake District, Devon and Cornwall.

“Two of the pupils at Great Barr Comp during my time are now world famous. Steve Winwood the musician and Martin Shaw the actor. All in all, it was a fantastic school. I hope today’s pupils appreciate what it offers and that it is still as good as when I was a pupil, back in the 1950s.”

** Great Barr Academy say they will be ‘welcoming students to its brand-new 6th Form Centre in September’.

Read the article in our online edition of Great Barr Gazette here.

Shelfield Students Perform In Lockdown

Shelfield AdvertiseLockdown didn’t stop current and former students of Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy performing an uplifting song online to showcase their true community spirit.

Organised by former students Isobel Higgins and Alex Banks, the challenging project saw the pair galvanise 15 other students and staff members to take part in a video performing Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.

19-year-old Isobel, who is now studying English as well as working full-time, said the project was the ideal vehicle for rekindling old friendships.

“A small number of us remain in contact as close friends and had always had a dream of getting a group together to sing Seasons of Love,” she said.

“Being stuck in lockdown seemed like the perfect opportunity, especially given the message of the song. As we reached out to more people, this dream became a reality, comprising ex and current staff and students from Shelfield, all of whom maintain a passion for the creative arts.”

She said co-ordinating the 17-strong chorus over two weeks was challenging, but rules, schedules and deadlines for each musician and singer were all communicated via social media

“We received back a set of wonderful performances, which Alex was able to edit,” continued Isobel. “She definitely had the most difficult job and she executed it with such professionalism and positivity.

“I am incredibly proud of every person involved in the project as the outcome has been incredible, thanks to every person’s commitment to their roles in the project.”

Alex, who is studying Media Production at Birmingham City University, said she took on the task of editing to use it in her showreel as part of her degree, but said it quickly “became a joy to work on and put together”.

“I felt that I had a great deal of responsibility in this project and it challenged me greatly through time management and organisation,” she said. “This video really helped me feel a sense of togetherness during lockdown and I hope that it creates the same feeling for others, too.”

Stuart Turnbull, the Academy’s principal, said he was proud of the efforts made by the school’s past and present students.