Al-Madinah free school gets new education trust

Al-Madinah School The school was described by Ofsted as "dysfunctional" and rated as inadequate

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A new education trust is to be brought in to run the troubled Al-Madinah free school in Derby, Education Minister Lord Nash has confirmed.

It follows a highly critical Ofsted report and a letter from the minister outlining 17 areas of improvement to be addressed by the school.

The school was described as "dysfunctional" and rated inadequate.

The current trustees have agreed to resign along with the chair of governors, Shazia Parveen.

The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust, which runs several academy schools across the East Midlands, has been asked to work with the school.

'Swift resolution'

In a letter to the outgoing chair of governors Lord Nash said: "I am not satisfied that you have demonstrated a strong basis for the transformation required at the school.

"I cannot tolerate any child experiencing a poor quality of education in any state funded school and am therefore determined to ensure there is a swift resolution.

"I have decided that the needs of the pupils at Al-Madinah school would be best served by bringing in a more experienced trust with the skills and capability required to deliver the improvements needed.

"The Greenwood Dale Foundation Trust has a track record of providing high quality education to children from a Muslim background and I have no doubt they will apply this expertise at Al-Madinah."

The new trust's Chief Executive Barry Day said: "If we sense that all we are going to get is resistance to everything that we try and do there - we will have to sit back and think about whether this is a project is actually winnable - but I don't believe that is going to happen.

"My job is to go in and talk to people and convince them that ... we are have their best interests at heart. We will give it our best shot."

Ms Parveen issued a statement in response to Lord Nash's letter, in which she said: "The trust will ensure that the transition of Al-Madinah is smooth and the ethos of the faith designated school remains secure.

"We acknowledge the positive input to allow or children to progress and have an academic success and a positive future."

Al-Madinah: The story so far

Ofsted report
  • September 2012: Al-Madinah school opens
  • August 2013: The Education Funding Agency confirms it is investigating alleged financial irregularities at the school
  • September: The school faces allegations it is imposing strict Islamic practices
  • October 7: The school reopens almost a week after it was closed during an Ofsted inspection over "health and safety concerns"
  • October 8: Education Minister Lord Nash lays out 17 concerns about the school and says it will close unless "unacceptable" teaching standards improve
  • Oct 14: The school amends its policy to make clear women do not have to wear head scarves
  • October 17: The school is described by Ofsted inspectors as "dysfunctional"
  • Oct 25: Muslim community leaders in Derby call for the school governors to resign
  • Nov 22: Lord Nash announces a new education trust will be brought in

Earlier, a statement on the school's website said the governors would not be stepping down and would work with the Department for Education (DfE) over the future of the school.

The message read: "Just to re-assure parents regarding the rumours circulating... about governors resigning.

"This is not the case and we would urge parents to talk to the PTA [parent-teacher association] and the governors if they are concerned.

"We are working with the DfE to ensure that our pupils future and the future of our school is secure."

On Friday, a DfE investigation into the school's finances was also published.

The report highlighted the school could not demonstrate that it was maintaining proper accounting records as required by the Companies Act.

It identified irregular payments of £19,188.85 which included duplicated payments to a supplier.

There were also concerns in the report that there were too few governors at the school which resulted in decisions being made by just two members of the board.

Lord Nash had written to the Al-Madinah Education Trust on 8 October "placing 17 requirements, which they must satisfy or risk their funding agreement being terminated".

The school's trustees were told to provide a plan by 1 November to show how fit they were to run the school and how it would improve.

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