Al-Madinah free school to be damned by Ofsted inspectors as dysfunctional

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A controversial free school at the heart of a row between Labour and the Tories over Michael Gove's reform programme will be condemned as "dysfunctional" in a devastating official report.

An Ofsted report, due to be published imminently, declares that the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derby is "in chaos" and has "not been adequately monitored or supported".

The report, which has been leaked to the Guardian, says teachers at the faith school are inexperienced and have not been provided with proper training.

Pupils are given the same work "regardless of their different abilities" and the governing body is "ineffective", according to the report which was commissioned amid reports of irregularities at the school.

An Ofsted inspection had been due to take place by the end of the year, but was brought forward by two months after allegations that women teachers were obliged to wear headscarves and that pupils were segregated. The school, which has 412 pupils aged between four and 16, closed during the inspection.

Written By: Nicholas Watt
continue to source article at theguardian.com

29 COMMENTS

  1. Pupils are given the same work “regardless of their different abilities.

    That is standard practice is Canadian and American schools. Happily they made a special exception in my case. A group about 30 of us got a special accelerated program with much more emphasis on exploration rather than rote learning.

    I wrote computer scheduling programs, and as a side effect got to talk with the principal and vice principal at great length. They explained that the “streaming” used at our schools to put students of similar ability in the same class was considered highly controversial and anti-democratic. Parents apparently preferred all kids to get identical instruction over tuned instruction.

    • In reply to #1 by Roedy:

      They explained that the “streaming” used at our schools to put students of similar ability in the same class was considered highly controversial and anti-democratic. Parents apparently preferred all kids to get identical instruction over tuned instruction.

      The UK National Curriculum requires all children to be taught the specified content. It does not require them to all be taught it at the same age, or level of maturity. Nor does it specify HOW the teachers are to teach it. There are age related “SATS” tests to assess the children’s progress to check that methods are effective, and OFSTED Inspections to see effective methods are being used, and that legal requirements are being met.

      Streaming is considered “controversial” in some places, but ability grouping within younger classes is considered normal – especially in small schools where there are mixed age classes.

      What appears to have happened here, is that backward “madrassa methods”, have been imported from backwaters of ignorance!
      - An immigrant – ghetto issue!

      @OP- An Ofsted report, due to be published imminently, declares that the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derby is “in chaos” and has “not been adequately monitored or supported”.

      This is entirely to be be expected.

      The designated “FREE” in “Free School” means free from supervision, advice, and support by the Local Education Authority.

      This diverts funding from the LEA to the school, and removes the available expert advice in favour of independent decisions by minimally, or totally, untrained ideologue amateurs!

      It is the right-wing ideologue dogma, that any Tom, Dick, and Harriet, knows better than qualified, heads, teachers and educational advisers or administrators.

      It is the well known type of plan used by political muppets, to arrange for their own and their supporters’ ignorance to bypass, and ignore, expert advice.

  2. In hiring, if knowledge of Arabic and Islam is mandatory, you exclude a big chunk of the labour force. No wonder you end up with people who cannot properly teach secular subjects. Religious schools are perilously close to racially segregated schools, especially in hiring practices.

    The whole notion of Islamic schools strikes as goofy as Islamic wards in hospitals, and Islamic dentistry. There should be nothing Islamic about teaching geometry, other than perhaps a history lesson on its founders that everyone should learn. If you want to teach Arabic or the Qu’ran, add it like Sunday school rather than displacing the core curriculum.

  3. @OP Michael Gove’s reform programme

    Michael Gove and his “reform programme”, have been condemned by the headteachers’ and teaching unions, with votes of no-confidence in him at their annual conferences. -
    But he “knows it all”, is still down-grading and damaging UK education with his incompetent meddling, and is not interested in expert advice!

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/may/18/michael-gove-fanatical-personal-trainer

    The UK’s three biggest teachers’ unions, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the NASUWT passed similar votes at their Easter conferences.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10066144/Michael-Gove-attacks-headteachers-over-no-confidence-vote.html

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/national-union-of-teachers-gives-unanimous-vote-of-no-confidence-in-education-secretary-michael-gove-8557042.html

    Teachers ended their conference season today by unanimously backing a motion of no confidence in Education Secretary Michael Gove – the first time in its 143-year history that the National Union of Teachers had taken such a step over a Secretary of State for Education.

    It meant that the season both started and ended with a no confidence motion in Mr Gove – delegates at the traditionally moderate Association of Teachers of Lecturers passing a similar motion at the first of the Easter conferences of the teachers’ unions ten days ago.

    The move at the NUT conference at Liverpool was greeted with enthusiastic chants of “Gove must go” by delegates.

    • I agree with your views on Michael Gove’s push for his ‘reform programme’. In fact, I will go as far as to say that in pursuit of his own ‘reformist’ agenda this “know it all” would see nothing wrong in allowing madrassas within the British system!

      In reply to #5 by Alan4discussion:*

      @OP Michael Gove’s reform programme

      Michael Gove and his “reform programme”, have been condemned by the headteachers’ and teaching unions, with votes of no-confidence in him at their annual conferences. -
      But he “knows it all”, is still down-grading and damaging UK education with his incompet…

      • In reply to #10 by HenMie:

        I agree with your views on Michael Gove’s push for his ‘reform programme’. In fact, I will go as far as to say that in pursuit of his own ‘reformist’ agenda this “know it all” would see nothing wrong in allowing madrassas within the British system!

        I see that the opposition to muppet Gove is spreading!

        http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/19/clegg-gove-schools-education-policy
        >

        This article was ammended on 20 October 2013 to clarify that Briggs was unqualified when she was appointed as headteacher of Pimlico free school.

        ▬▬▬▬▬ ▬▬▬▬▬ ▬▬▬▬▬

        The Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition has descended into open warfare over education policy as Nick Clegg dramatically disowned the “ideology” driving much of Michael Gove’s controversial schools reform programme.

        In a speech this week, extracts of which were released on Saturday night, the deputy prime minister will say that unqualified teachers should not be allowed to teach in state-funded schools and that parents need more reassurance about standards and the curriculum. “Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education,” he will say.

        The intervention by Clegg drives a wedge between the two governing parties over a key domestic policy, as more signs of trouble emerge this weekend with the free school programme, the flagship of the Tories’ public service reform agenda.

        The Observer can reveal that a second unqualified headteacher of a free school has quit her post following criticism. Last week the Guardian revealed that Annaliese Briggs, a 27-year-old who was unqualified when she was appointed as headteacher of Pimlico free school in London, had resigned after just three weeks in the job.

        Now it has emerged that Lindsey Snowdon has stepped down from the Discovery new school in Crawley, West Sussex, after a stinging Ofsted report into her work at the 60-pupil primary free school, saying she “lacks the skills and knowledge to improve teaching”.

        A temporary head, experienced in turning round “failing schools”, has been appointed in her place.

        Tristram Hunt, the [opposition Labour] shadow education secretary, said: “I’m delighted Nick Clegg [Liberal Democrat leader] has realised the dangers of an ideologically driven schools policy. We would be happy to work with him to reintroduce accountability, proper standards and qualified teachers in all our schools across the country.”

        This effectively means that if opposition Labour, vote with the Lib-Dems splitting from their coalition Tory partners, and vote against Gove they will between them, have a parliamentary majority.

  4. Hopefully this might be a start to condemning poorly performing cult based schools!
    I would love to have the money to open a school based on science ,maths, and engineering without anything associated with religious horse shit!

  5. Pupils are given the same work “regardless of their different abilities” and the governing body is “ineffective”, according to the report which was commissioned amid reports of irregularities at the school.

    This is pretty true at least in this country also. Both sides of government seem inclined to push standardisation across classrooms while knowing and catering to the individual student. Sorry, it’s a sliding scale I can attempt to teach quadratic equations to kids (say in a support class) who don’t know what a fraction is or I can attempt to teach them what a fraction is you can’t have it both ways.

  6. This is a crackpot doctrinaire policy designed to massage and bolster the Minister’s ego.

    I’m led to believe that this Secretary of State for Education distributed King James Bibles to every school in the country, with his name on the spine, in gold leaf, larger than that of the books title; surely, that can’t be true! Can it?

  7. There are a few ill winds blowing in this arena. The first is the conspicuously bad idea common among the didactic and fobbed off as democracy is the idea that all learners start with the same knowledge and ability and that they will all benefit by someone summarising a body of knowledge for the consumption without them learning to think about it. Hence streaming according to ability is somehow cruel and anti-human. The second is that this background is fertile for the doctrinaire and the indoctrination of learners by pernicious epistemological systems like religions. Give us the boy ’til he is seven and we’ll make sure he never thinks again!! The third is the crack-pottery of the minister for education who seems to think in a post industrial revolution the best way forward is get everyone learning dead languages and to permit the growth atrocious woo peddling establishments like Al-Madinah. This is government interference in education at its worst and tantamount to fascism.

  8. One fears that an Islamic school will do little more than indoctrinate its pupils in the Koran. It would be good to know what subjects this particular school includes in its syllabus. Are art and music included, for example? With Islam’s primitive dread of representations of the human figure as idol worshipping and also its extremely censorious attitude towards music it’s hard to see either of those subjects being taken seriously. I’d be pleased to learn that this wasn’t the case, however, and that the students get proper provision in those two activities, so wonderful in helping develop a child’s imagination.

  9. Please can all members in the UK help do something about this. This is Gove’s free school policy personified and after years of state education and a national curriculum and a lack of weird ideas like creationism or homophobia in state schools Gove is simply funding nutters.

    It might interest people hear to know that the ex acting principal of Al Madinah is an Andrew Cutts Mckay, who was temporarily in charge whilst a Muslim head was sought. This McKay is now head designate of yet another of Goves loony free schools. One set to open in 2014. This is the Exemplar academy or Newark Business school in Newark. This academy first put in a bid three years ago as Everyday Champions Church. The bid was turned down as even Gove could not fail to miss the fact they were creationist nutters. It simply changed its name and hid the backing of the church. Reapplied and was accepted.

    Why did McKay fit so neatly into Al Madinah? Who knows but their website (now significantly altered) originally had this to say about science teaching.

    “In each and every department, all efforts will be geared towards ensuring the books and resources conform to the teachings of Islam. Sensitive, inaccurate and potentially blasphemous material will be censored or removed completely. If and when teachers are required by the curriculum to convey teachings that are totally against Islam (such as Darwinism), the Director of Islamic Studies will brief the relevant teachers and advise accordingly.”

    Gove’s policy is letting religious extremism right into the heart of UK education.!!!! And nobody is screaming about it at all.

  10. @OP Michael Gove’s reform programme

    Michael Gove and his “reform programme”, have been condemned by the headteachers’ and teaching unions, with votes of no-confidence in him at their annual conferences. -
    But he “knows it all”, is still down-grading and damaging UK education with his incompet…

    Alan4discussion, that is the polite version of teachers take on Gove. Come into any staff room to see what the teaching profession really think about him. But not if you are in any way sensitive or offended by bad language.

    Yet this free school policy, such an obvious gift to Islamic and Christian extremists, has been ignored for three years! It was obvious to anyone what would happen.

    • In reply to #19 by PG:

      Yet this free school policy, such an obvious gift to Islamic and Christian extremists, has been ignored for three years! It was obvious to anyone what would happen.

      It was supposed to be a gift to Tory, other right-wing extremists, and various churches. They were too thick and blinkered to see wider effects and too ignorant to understand that teaching techniques matching child maturity, is required in addition to subject knowledge.

      These failed schools are working exactly as they were designed to work, with meddling amateurs taking all the key decisions, appointing like-thinking novices who can’t foresee any problems to run them. They will be vastly superior to normal LEA schools – according to ideologue wish-thinking, with a few fiddles and political false claims fed to the press to massage the figures and the images.

      Teaching is “easy”!!!! The muppets have all been to school and watched professionals do the job. It just works – No preparation, planning or expertise required!
      They are like football supporters at a match – who can all tell the ref. and premiership players how to bias the rules and perform “better”!

  11. What sort of parent sends their child to a school where the teaching staff are unqualified, and are able to spout their own personal views on scientific facts. Most parents want their kids to do well in exams, and have the opportunity to reach their goal in life. By sending them to schools like this, they are denying them their future in order to prevent them learning about the real world. Children should not be deliberately kept in ignorance in this country, and I can’t believe we are allowing it to continue. At least Nick Clegg has criticised the policy today. Not that he has any clout, but every public negative comment might help.
    Meanwhile, I’m thinking of setting up a satanist school. I will guarantee that the science lessons will be excellent, and all the pupils will end up being highly talented fiddle players. We will only have a 10 minute session of devil worship each morning. I can’t see how Gove and co can object to that.

    • In reply to #22 by TenderHooligan:

      What sort of parent sends their child to a school where the teaching staff are unqualified, and are able to spout their own personal views on scientific facts.

      Probably the same sort who deny science, and who swallow sales guff from; homoeopaths, faith-healers, astrologers, anti-vaxers, proselytising woo-pedlars, and political ideologists.

  12. Alan4discussion Probably the same sort who deny science, and who swallow sales guff from; homoeopaths, faith-healers, astrologers, anti-vaxers, proselytising woo-pedlars, and political ideologists.

    Or perhaps the ones who no longer have a local normal school to go to! That is the way it is going, we are seeing local normal schools, which nearly every poll of nearly every parent says is wanted, being starved of funding whilst free schools spring up willy nilly all over the place.

    And where there is still choice money is thrown at free schools that can’t open cos they simply do not have enough pupils to fill a class. But Goves plan is to get rid of LEAs and state control and hand education over to free markets and individuals. Bit like handing surgery over to any tom, dick or harry that fancies doing an op. In short independent, private little niches of schools.

    I guess Gove was hoping for lots of blithering, tory boys like Toby Young. But even he is not really suitable to run a school. Just because he’s not a fundementalist does not make him capable or even suitable.

    • In reply to #24 by PG:

      Or perhaps the ones who no longer have a local normal school to go to!

      There has certainly in recent years been enthusiastic reduction in “surplus” school places, with little regard for the potential of future expanding school populations.

      That is the way it is going, we are seeing local normal schools, which nearly every poll of nearly every parent says is wanted, being starved of funding whilst free schools spring up willy nilly all over the place.

      Schools were familiar with buckets under leaking roofs and patches on the patches, because of the inadequate budgets allocated to them in Thatcher’s day. Neglect of public services with cosy niches for their friends and supporters to privatise, is only to be expected with the present government.

      Public services need to be really cheap and nasty, to encourage people to buy into profitable private outfits which rich executives with tax cuts can easily afford. (A bit like health care in USA)

  13. Alan4discussion,
    Sadly you are spot on. And not just schools our NHS is also being allowed to fail.

    In my humble opinion we owe our lack of real religious fervour and increasing secularism to education and our welfare state. We are increasingly atheist because we have some kind of hope and neutral service providers. But that is going and the gap is being filled by religious loonies running schools and religious food banks feeding increasing numbers or people (or teachers – we are increasingly providing food to students). How long before we get religious hospitals springing up and the sort of despair where in the absence of all else all you have is a deity.

  14. The Muslim community has been passing through a phase of fourth Crusades. The battleground is the field of education, where the young generation will be educated properly with the Holly Quran in one hand and Sciences in other hand to serve the British society and the world at large. A true Muslim is a citizen of the world, which has become a small global village. We are going to prepare our youth to achieve that objective in the long run. A true Muslim believes in Prophet Moses and the Prophet Jesus and without them one cannot be a Muslim. My suggestion is that in all state, independent and Christian based school special attention should be given to the teaching of Comparative Religion and Islam should be taught by qualified Muslim Teachers to make the children aware the closeness of Islam to Christianity and Judaism which will help them to think about Islam, as “A Pragmatic and Modern Way of Life,” during their life time.

    British schooling and the British society is the home of institutional racism. The result is that Muslim children are unable to develop self-confidence and self-esteem, therefore, majority of them leave schools with low grades. Racism is deeply rooted in British society. Every native child is born with a gene or virus of racism, therefore, no law could change the attitudes of racism towards those who are different. It is not only the common man, even member of the royal family is involved in racism. The father of a Pakistani office cadet who was called a “***” by Prince Harry has profoundly condemned his actions. He had felt proud when he met the Queen and the Prince of Wales at his son’s passing out parade at Sandhurst in 2006 but now felt upset after learning about the Prince’s comments. Queen Victoria invited an Imam from India to teach her Urdu language. He was highly respected by the Queen but other members of the royal family had no respect for him. He was forced to go back to India. His portrait is still in one of the royal places.

    Bradford has been named as having the second worst performing secondary schools in the country, according to Ofsted judgements. Figures published by the school’s inspector suggest 71 per cent of secondary school students in Bradford are attending schools deemed “not good enough” by the Government. While only five per cent in Bradford were officially labelled as “inadequate” by Ofsted, a massive 66 per cent attend schools which only reach “satisfactory”. In his first annual report published yesterday, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said he was “worried” about the number of pupils across the country attending schools “judged to be no better than satisfactory”.

    The regional director for Ofsted, Mike Cladingbowl, told the Telegraph & Argus that children were not getting the education they deserved. He said it was not simply down to children’s backgrounds but the quality of school leadership was the biggest factor. Education chiefs and leaders in the district have warned that while more needs to be done, the report fails to show the improvement made in Bradford in recent years. Bradford West MP George Galloway said: “Good and outstanding are the very least we should expect – we want every school in the city to be at least a good standard and these results are completely and utterly shaming of consecutive councils and in particular the Labour one. “Since the first day I arrived in Bradford it has been a campaigning issue, determined to get the standards of schools in this city raised, to get every single one at least at the good standard. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that the majority of schools in this city are failing pupils and parents.”

    The best solution of this problem is that those state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority should be designated as Muslim community schools under the management and control of Muslim educational Trusts. Newly arrived Muslim children can be educated in Muslim schools with Muslim teachers. They are not going to swamp state schools and they will not suffer from bullying and racism. They will feel at home with teachers speaking the same languages. This is a humane approach to the education of newly arrived children otherwise they will suffer educationally and emotionally like their predecessors. I hope Policy makers will look for alternatives to educate children of asylum seekers so that they could be easily accommodated and adjusted in the British society as equals.

    Truth is always bitter. You must learn to listen to those who are culturally, linguistically and spiritually different. Education is should be more than providing pupils with the skills they need to get a job or enter university: we should not forget that we have a duty to pass on a body of knowledge through generations

    British schools are not doing enough to tackle racism and promote race relations. Many teachers are unaware of racist attitudes amongst pupils. Schools have a responsibility not only to deal with racist incidents but also to prepare pupils for life in a multicultural and multiracial society.

    Children from minority groups, especially the Muslims, are exposed to the pressure of racism, multiculturalism and bullying. They suffer academically, culturally and linguistically: a high proportion of children of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin are leaving British schools with low grades or no qualification.

    In the 80s, the Muslim community in Britain started to set up Muslim schools. The first was the London School of Islamics which I established and which operating from 1981-86. Now there are 180 and only 12 are state funded.

    The needs and demands of Muslim children can be met only through Muslim schools, but education is an expensive business and the Muslim community does not have the resources to set up schools for each and every child, and only eight Muslim schools have achieved grant maintained status.

    This leaves a majority of children from Muslim families with no choice but to attend state schools. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models.

    Prince Charles, while visiting the first grant maintained Muslim school in north London, said that the pupils would be the future ambassadors of Islam. But what about thousands of others, who attend state schools deemed to be “sink schools”?

    The time has come for the Muslim community – in the form of Islamic charities and trusts – to manage and run those state schools where Muslim pupils are in the majority. The Department for Education would be responsible for funding, inspection and maintenance.

    The management would be in the hands of educated professional Muslims. The teaching of Arabic, Islamic studies, Urdu and other community languages by qualified Muslim teachers would help the pupils to develop an Islamic identity, which is crucial for mental, emotional and personality development.

    In the east London borough of Newham, there are at least 10 state schools where Muslim pupils are in the majority.

    The television newscaster Sir Trevor McDonald is a champion of introducing foreign modern languages even at primary level in schools in Britain. The Muslim community would like to see Arabic, Urdu and other community languages introduced at nursery, primary and secondary schools along with European languages so that Muslim pupils have these options.

    In education, there should be a choice and at present it is denied to the Muslim community. In the late 80s and early 90s, when I floated the idea of Muslim community schools, I was declared a “school hijacker” by an editorial in the Newham Recorder newspaper.
    Iftikhar Ahmad
    London School of Islamics Trust
    http://www.londonschoolofislamics.org.uk

    • In reply to #27 by iftikhar.ahmad.779857:

      The Muslim community has been passing through a phase of fourth Crusades. The battleground is the field of education, where the young generation will be educated properly with the Holly Quran in one hand and Sciences in other hand to serve the British society and the world at large. A true Muslim is…

      iftikar.ahmed

      Your views on education is rubbish!
      You conflate racism with criticism of a backward 7th century dogma possibly created by an an illiterate psychopath(malevolent Mo) and his fairy tale creation(imaginary Allah); whose teachings create Allah’s heavenly bordello and the quasi psychopathic nonsense as
      The evidence for backward inferior education is in abundance within Muslim national countries ; whereby education is very definitely polluted by belief in imaginary Allah and ill educated Imams and mullahs.
      I’ve yet to hear about madrassas where science ,mathematics and engineering are taught.
      It’s time that Islam becomes the humourous subject of TV black satire in order to convert Islam inculcated unfortunates to believe in science and free speech.
      Dump Islam Iftikar and learn that empirical fact is the basis of civilisation; rather than belief in the prophecies of a desert dwelling psychopath !

  15. It’s time for you to become an apostate Iftikar!
    Belief in Islamic dogmatic claptrap is a lot more insane than Christian crap!
    The inculcation of Islamic dogma is a form of induced psychopathy as demonstrated by Salafism.
    In recent times my sympathy for Israel has increased massively!

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