Al-Madinah School (Derby)
|Motto||Educating and Inspiring|
|Established||3 September 2012|
|Interim principal||Safeena Higgins|
|Trust Chair||Barry Day|
|Founder||Al-Madinah Education Trust|
|DfE URN||138776 Tables|
Al-Madinah School is a co-educational Muslim faith based free school for pupils aged 4 to 16 located in Derby, Derbyshire, England, and run by the Al-Madinah Education Trust. The school opened in 2012, and has made headlines for its strict Islamic practices, alleged discrimination to female pupils and staff, financial irregularities and nepotistic practices. Following government concerns about the quality of teaching at the school, it was placed in special measures in October 2013. In February 2014 Education Minister Lord Nash announced that secondary education at the school would cease in the summer of 2014.
However a high demand for places at the school was reported when enrolment started in 2012.
The idea of a segregated religious school was opposed by the Derby Campaign for Inclusive Education (DCIE) on the grounds that education should be inclusive with children from different backgrounds being educated together so they can make up their own minds as to what to believe as adults.
There were also concerns amongst the Muslim community regarding the competency of the founders, doublespeak, political agendas, personal agenda and financial irregularities at a previous charity resulting in a public q&a meeting organised by the Derby Community Education Forum, which the founders refused to attend.
Al-Madinah School offers primary and secondary education to pupils aged 4 to 16 from the Derby area. Where the number of applications for admission to the school is greater than the amount of places, 50% of places are given to pupils of the Muslim faith, while the other 50% are given to pupils of any faith or none.
Curriculum and religion
The school's Islamic Studies programme includes reading, translation and memorisation of the Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, biography of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, history of Islam and Islamic beliefs. The Islamic studies programme has an ‘opt-out’ choice for parents who do not want their child or children to take part. Daily prayers and weekly religious assemblies also take place at the school.
In the summer of 2013 the school required all female teachers, regardless of religious faith, to sign a contract stating that they would wear Islamic dress. The school prohibits teachers from bringing non-halal food onto school premises.
There have also been concerns that there may be discrimination between boys and girls in the school, with the girls being required to sit at the back of the class.
It has also been alleged that the children who do not wish to partake in Islamic study have not been offered the promised alternative, and that the school does not offer French or Spanish as alternatives for Arabic as it had promised.
The school was branded dysfunctional and inadequate by Ofsted for hiring inexperienced teachers, failing to put basic systems in place and relying on a temporary head to prevent its collapse.
There have been a number of financial irregularities revealed by Channel 4 based on a leaked Education Funding Agency report that highlight contracts given to companies that employed relatives of the governors, conflicts of interest and questionable expense payments.
By September 2013 the Department of Education was investigating the school. The school received an unscheduled Ofsted and Department of Education inspection on 1 and 2 October 2013. A few hours into the inspection, which was described as 'damning', interim principal Stuart Wilson closed the school due to unspecified "Health & Safety" concerns and claimed that it would be re-opened soon. It was then confirmed that the school would reopen on 7 October, which it did.
|Al-Madinah school 'dysfunctional' (17 October 2013). Channel 4 News coverage of Ofsted's critical inspection report. Channel 4 News Official channel. (Flash Video.)|
Parliament pushed for the Ofsted and Department for Education reports to be made public as soon as possible due to the concerns. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) were sceptical of the school's explanation of the closure, and the Department for Education have confirmed an investigation.
The report was published on 17 October 2013 and rated the school as "inadequate" with regard to the achievement of pupils, the quality of teaching, the behaviour and safety of pupils, and the leadership and management of the school. Describing the school as "dysfunctional", Ofsted placed it under Special measures, a status applied to schools which fail to supply an acceptable level of education and lack the leadership capacity necessary to secure improvements.
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- "Al-Madinah free school in Derby to stop secondary education". BBC News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.
- "Muslim school planned for city 'will produce a lost generation'". This is Derbyshire. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- Iqbal, Zafer (2 October 2013). "Al Madinah free school: Michael Gove’s “moderate Muslim experiment” exposed". 5Pillarz.
- "BBC News - 'High demand' for Muslim ethos school in Derby". BBC. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- "Derby Campaign for Inclusive Education". DCIE. 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2013-09-20.
- "Admissions Policy". Al-Madinah School.
- "Home". Al-Madinah School. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
- Bains, Inderdeep and Ben Spencer. "Female teachers at Islamic school 'made to sign contract agreeing to wear headscarf even if they're NOT Muslim'." The Daily Mail. 20 September 2013. Retrieved on 21 September 2013.
- "Teachers at Derby's Muslim school 'ordered to wear hijabs'". Derby Telegraph. 2013-09-25. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- "ThisIs". M.thisisderbyshire.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- "Al-Madinah school condemned by ofsted as chaotic and inadequate".
- "Report exposes conflicts of interest at Muslim free school". Channel4. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
- Piggott, Mark. "Ex-MI5 Agents Target Extremist Influence in UK Schools." International Business Times. September 29, 2013. Retrieved on September 30, 2013.
- "Derby Muslim free school Al-Madinah closes after inspection". BBC. 2013-10-01. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Derby Muslim school closes down during inspectors' visit". Derby Telegraph. 2013-10-02. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "BBC News - Muslim free school allegations prompt Labour questions". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
- "BBC News - Muslim free school allegations prompt Labour questions". M.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- "BBC News - Derby's Al-Madinah Muslim free school reopens". M.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-07.
- "Al-Madinah free school in Derby labelled 'dysfunctional' by Ofsted". BBC News. 17 October 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.