Al-Madinah free school in Derby labelled 'dysfunctional' by Ofsted

Dr Stuart Wilson, interim head: "We fully accept the report. It does match our judgement of where the school is"

A Muslim free school has been described by Ofsted inspectors as "dysfunctional" and rated inadequate in every category - within a year of it opening.

An inspection at Derby's Al-Madinah school was brought forward after fears were raised over teaching standards.

The report says teachers there are inexperienced and have not been provided with proper training and that the school requires special measures.

The school said it accepted the report and would use it to move forward.

Reacting to the findings, David Cameron told BBC Radio Derby: "If they don't take immediate action to deal with these things then I think it is right it should close and I think it's absolutely right to intervene rapidly when these things aren't working properly."

However, he added: "Let's not use this as a stick with which to beat the whole free school movement - there are now hundreds of schools which have set up as free schools, and on average they have more outstanding and good ratings than established schools.

"When it goes wrong - just as with a state school - you've got to get in there and sort it out, or close it down," he said.

The Ofsted inspection had been due to take place by the end of the year but was prioritised following initial allegations that female teachers were obliged to wear hijabs and boys and girls were segregated.

Analysis

There can be no more controversial policy than Michael Gove's free school project.

Some welcome the DIY school idea as a breath of fresh air in a stale system.

Others, including Labour, see it as a dangerous ideological experiment, with our children its guinea pigs.

But one thing is certain, Ofsted's report on the Al-Madinah School could not be more damning.

Questions will be asked how the Department for Education could approve a school for opening one year, only for it to be found to lack the "basic systems" it needs to operate the next.

Were the checks necessary for ensuring the school would be fit for purpose undertaken in a sufficiently rigorous way?

Al-Madinah is not the first free school to be put on special measures, another the Discovery Free School in West Sussex was also put in this category in July 2013.

And at least five others have been labelled "requiring improvement".

But none has unravelled quite so publicly as this Derby faith school.

It is this added religious dimension that makes the issue so tricky for Mr Gove.

In the early days of his free school project, applications from minority faith groups seemed to come in thick and fast. Not all went on to open, but some may ask whether more schools than should have been were approved for opening.

The school has since written to pupils and staff telling them there is no requirement to cover their hair.

Education minister Lord Nash last week warned the school it faced closure unless discrimination against female staff and pupils stopped.

A spokesperson said: "We were already investigating this school before allegations became public. We discussed the problems with Ofsted and it launched an immediate inspection.

"We have received a response from the Al-Madinah Education Trust as well as a report on the school from Ofsted. Any decisions made will take into account all the available evidence."

Cut and paste

Parents of students at the school have had a mixed reaction to the report

The Ofsted report found that pupils were given the same work "regardless of their different abilities" and the governing body was "ineffective".

It said basic systems were not in place, describing the school as being "in chaos" and "dysfunctional".

Boys and girls had different lunch sittings but the report said this was due to the small size of the canteen.

Inspectors gave the school the lowest ranking - "inadequate" - in every area, prompting the chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw to call for it to be placed in special measures.

This means Ofsted will carry out inspections at the school at short notice to monitor improvements. If poor performance continues the school could be closed.

Dr Stuart Wilson, the acting head teacher, said there were "significant and serous problems" at the school and accepted some of the lessons were not meeting necessary standards.

"Are special measures a disaster for the school? Yes, they are," said Dr Wilson.

"It's not where we want the school to be at this time but we accept the report."

In one mathematics lesson, described by Ofsted as "insufficiently challenging", pupils spent the majority of their time cutting out and pasting shapes.

Dr Wilson said the school, which has 412 pupils aged between four and 16, had a lot of issues to deal with but he insisted it did have a future.

"Obviously the report doesn't make pleasant reading for anybody - we don't want to be in this position - we wish we weren't in this position - but what we need to do now is to accept the report in full and use it to move the school forward."

Writing to the school's chair of governors on Thursday, Lord Nash said the Ofsted report was "further compelling evidence of the breaches of the funding agreement I have required you to address".

Al-Madinah School Ofsted will carry out short-notice inspections at the school to monitor improvements

"Contrary to your suggestion that I have acted prematurely, I am even more convinced of the need for very decisive and urgent action on the part of the trust to comply with all your obligations and remedy the serious failings at the school."

One parent told the BBC: "I know they are teaching my children well. I'm seeing their progress and I have no concerns at all about the school."

Another, Razwana Akbar, said: "I am very angry. They have broken the trust as professional teachers, they have let us down."

Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, said: "Frankly, the position of Al-Madinah school is now untenable and I would fully expect the school to close and for the children to be found alternative places in the council schools in the city."

'Total opportunism'

Speaking in Parliament earlier, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt said the Ofsted report was a "devastating blow to the education secretary's flagship policy".

He said: "It reveals that pupils have been failed on every possible measure and parents will want to know why the education secretary has allowed this to happen."

He described the government's free school programme as a "dangerous free-for-all".

Are free schools succeeding?

  • Of England's 24 first free schools, three-quarters were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted
  • Four - outstanding
  • 14 - good
  • Five - require improvement
  • One - Discovery New School, West Sussex - inadequate

"David Cameron and Michael Gove can no longer ignore this issue - it is a crisis entirely of their own making," he said.

But speaking at the weekend, Mr Hunt told BBC One's Andrew Marr programme that although Labour would not open new free schools "along the Michael Gove model", the bulk of existing free schools would be kept open as his party wanted to "keep the good free schools".

Responding to Mr Hunt's more recent comments, the schools minister David Laws said that the government had taken "swift action" to deal with failings at the Al-Madinah free school told MPs that no school would be allowed to "languish in failure".

He also accused Labour of "total and utter opportunism" using the report "to shift its position".

More on This Story

Related Stories

BBC Derby

Weather

Derby

9 °C 7 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    12:57: News on the hour BBC Radio Derby

    In the 13:00 news bulletin: A Derby engineering company says the £15m worth of contracts won with train-maker Bombardier has secured its workers' futures.

     
  2.  
    12:42: Man injured in Matlock Bath crash Derbyshire Times

    A driver has been taken to hospital after his car flipped over in Matlock Bath.

     
  3.  
    12:32: Long service watch stolen in burglary

    An antique gold watch given for 25 years' service was among several valuable items stolen during a burglary in Chellaston.

    Other items taken from the house, in Sutton Avenue, include a Royal Crown Derby paperweight and a large amount of cash.

     
  4.  
    12:21: Blue skies Charlie Slater BBC Weather

    We're not doing too badly today. It's a bit breezy but it's broken up the cloud earlier than we thought, so there's some brightness and blue sky out there.

     
  5.  
    11:58: News on the hour Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 12:00 bulletin, we'll hear more from the chief executive of a Derby firm that has just secured a £15m order from Bombardier.

     
  6.  
    11:46: Woman charged following drugs raid

    A 28-year-old woman has been charged with drugs offences following a police raid in Kilburn.

    Officers seized drugs equipment, mobile phones and cash during a search of the property, in Meadow Court, on Tuesday.

     
  7.  
    11:32: Minister visits Ilkeston Wesley Mallin Reporter, BBC Derby

    I'm at the Ilkeston rail station site, which is being visited by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.

    Patrick McLoughlin

    Construction is due to begin this weekend following months of delays.

     
  8.  
    11:19: Station work to start East Midlands Today

    Work is finally due to start on a new railway station for Ilkeston this weekend following months of delays.

    Artist impression of Ilkeston Station

    The £6.5m project was scheduled to be completed by the end of last year but work has been held up by flooding concerns and the discovery of protected newts.

     
  9.  
    Email derby.locallive@bbc.co.uk 11:10: Your photos for Facebook Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    Our latest Facebook cover photo was taken by Andy Potter at Broomfield Hall College in Morley.

    Facebook cover photo

    Nominate one of your own pictures as a future cover image by emailing it to derby.locallive@bbc.co.uk

     
  10.  
    11:00: News on the hour Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 11:00 bulletin, A Derby engineering firm says the £15m worth of contracts won with Bombardier has secured its workers' futures.

    Sally Swinfen
     
  11.  
    10:50: Magistrates' court to close? Burton Mail

    A law firm has voiced concerns over rumours that Burton Magistrates' Court has been earmarked for closure - a move which could see victims having to travel miles out of town to see criminals brought to justice.

     
  12.  
    10:39: Migrant population 'growing'

    Oxford University's study estimates the number of foreign-born residents in the East Midlands has grown by 45,000 since 2011.

    The total increase for England is believed to be 565,000 - from 7,337,000 to 7,902,000.

     
  13.  
    10:28: Cricket club in the black Owen Bradley BBC Radio Derby Sport

    Derbyshire County Cricket Club has recorded a profit for the fourth year in a row.

    The club finished 2014 with a profit of just over £1,000, which chief executive Simon Storey called "another step towards achieving our ambitions".

     
  14.  
    10:15: Early shift Amy Harris Presenter

    Good morning from the East Midlands Today sofa where I'm reading today's early bulletins.

    Amy Harris
     
  15.  
    10:00: News on the hour Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    A Derby engineering company says the £15m worth of contracts won with the train-maker Bombardier has secured its workers' future.

    Find out more in my 10:00 bulletin.

     
  16.  
    09:50: Ince 'not thinking about future' Owen Bradley BBC Radio Derby Sport

    Derby County loan player Tom Ince says now is not the time to think about his long-term future.

    Tom Ince goal celebration

    The 23-year-old Hull City forward, who was nominated for the Championship player of the month award for February, says he wants to concentrate on the Rams' promotion push.

     
  17.  
    09:37: Have your say Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you news, sport, travel and weather updates in one place. We'd like to find out what you think of the service.

     
  18.  
    09:24: Free cyber security advice BBC Radio Derby

    Technology experts will be on hand in Derby city centre today to give devices an up-to-date security check and show how to best protect smartphones, tablets and computers.

    The event, at Derby Theatre in the Intu shopping centre, has been organised by the East Midlands Cyber Crime Unit.

     
  19.  
    09:13: Derby Arena nominated Derby Telegraph

    The multi-million-pound Derby Arena has been shortlisted for a regional architectural award.

    Derby Arena
     
  20.  
    08:56: News on the hour Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 09:00 bulletin, we'll hear from a Derby engineering firm which has just signed a £15m deal with train-maker Bombardier.

     
  21.  
    08:43: Migrant population grows BBC Radio Derby

    Latest figures suggest Derby's migrant population has increased by 3,800 over the past four years.

    The estimations were made by Oxford University, based on census data from 2011.

     
  22.  
    08:33: Ince misses out Owen Bradley BBC Radio Derby Sport

    Nottingham Forest's Henri Lansbury has beaten Derby County's Tom Ince to be named February's Championship Player of the Month.

     
  23.  
    08:20: Derby benefits from Crossrail BBC Radio Derby

    A Derby company has beaten worldwide competition to secure contracts worth £15m with train-maker Bombardier.

    Engineering business Garrandale Group will supply assembly and production line equipment needed to make trains for London Crossrail - a major deal secured by Bombardier last year.

     
  24.  
    08:05: Sunny later Charlie Slater BBC Weather

    It's a cloudy and overcast start to the day, but the clouds should thin and break as we make our way to this afternoon allowing for some brighter weather and sunny spells. Highs of 11C (52F).

    Charlie Slater
     
  25.  
    08:00: It's Friday Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    Hi everyone. I'll be bringing you all of today's news, sport, travel and weather for Derbyshire and East Staffordshire.

    I love featuring your comments and photos, so email derby.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet us @bbcderby at any time.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show

Programmes

  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.