Tory’s free school policy branded a failure

Tory’s free school policy branded a failure

FOLLOWING today’s announcement that a “dysfunctional” Muslim secondary school – Al-Madinah – has been forced to shut, shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt said:

This is more evidence that David Cameron’s Free School programme is damaging education standards in this country.  Ofsted judged that Al-Madinah, one of the Prime Minister’s flagship Free Schools, is completely dysfunctional.

Al -Madinah's founding governor Abdullah Shahjan, right, outside the schiool Derby, after the controversial Muslim free school was branded dysfunctional by inspectors Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

Al -Madinah’s founding governor Abdullah Shahjan, right, outside the schiool Derby, after the controversial Muslim free school was branded dysfunctional by inspectors Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA

Hunt added:

It has come to symbolise everything that is wrong with the Free School programme: unqualified teachers in the classroom and a complete lack of local oversight of these schools.

Despite the continuing evidence that this programme is damaging standards, the Tory-led government is happy to plough on.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said:

Once again Education Secretary Michael Gove has a lot of questions to answer about his flagship free school policy.  It is becoming increasingly apparent that the process for approving groups to open free schools is inadequate and that in his haste to open these schools, procedures for ensuring that providers deliver the highest standards of education are not in place.

The free school programme must be paused so that the lessons of troubled schools such as the Discovery Free School, Al-Madinah and the King’s Science Academy can be learned.

Free schools should be brought within the responsibility of their local authority to ensure proper oversight of both their governance and the standard of education they offer.

Al-Madinah free school is to stop teaching secondary pupils from this summer.

The Government stepped in after an Ofsted report warned that the school was in chaos, with concerns over teaching quality and the curriculum.


Schools minister Lord Nash said:

I have come to the conclusion that it would simply not be in the interests of parents or pupils at the secondary school to continue to fund provision which has failed them in the manner now apparent.

He said the move would allow the trust to focus on the primary school.

The Al-Madinah school opened in September 2012, and within a year was under investigation by the Education Funding Agency over alleged irregularities.

There have been claims it was imposing strict Islamic practices, such as forcing women to wear headscarves, and a temporary closure due to health and safety concerns.

In October Ofsted branded the school “dysfunctional”, prompting Lord Nash to announce that a new education Trust was being brought in, but before Christmas inspectors reported that there was still “no sign of improvement”.

In a letter to the Trust today, Lord Nash said it was:

Clear there is a great deal of work to do at the school.

I am particularly concerned at the poor quality of secondary teaching and the lack of breadth in the secondary curriculum. I have decided it would be in the best interests of those children in the secondary school to continue their education elsewhere from this September onwards.

A Department for Education spokesman said:

The vast majority of free schools are performing well but where we have found failure we have acted swiftly and decisively.

We have monitored Al-Madinah very closely since problems came to light last year. Based on the current situation we believe the new board – which began work last week –  needs to focus efforts on the primary school in order to bring about the level of improvement required.

The board has accepted our decision to close the secondary school and we have offered our full support in helping pupils to find alternative places before the start of the next academic year.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn


38 responses to “Tory’s free school policy branded a failure”

  1. Daz says:

    Hunt added:

    Despite the continuing evidence that this programme is damaging standards, the Tory-led government is happy to plough on.

    whilst carefully not mentioning that it’s merely an offshoot of Labour’s Academies programme. I applaud the sentiment, but I can’t help but think it’s just being used as a convenient political baton.

  2. Paul Cook says:

    muslims are ‘taught’ to recite the entire koran, in short they simply rote learn it, thereby learning nothing.

    So it is these very young people at schools like this who do need both a quality of teaching and a curriculum with breadth. It harms all of us that these fools are able to simply create schools like this.

    “I am particularly concerned at the poor quality of secondary teaching and the lack of breadth in the secondary curriculum. “

  3. 20% Off says:

    Don’t give islam open shop to incubate terrorists.
    Faith schools = disaster.

    All schools must be secular and teach good science, maths, language, history, geography, arts, music, PE. Keep religion out of schools. Keep imams, mullahs, evangelists, priests, rabbis, vicars away from children.

    Imams, mullahs, evangelists, priests, rabbis, vicars should be tattooed on the face with a health warning. The pious can seriously damage you and society.

    Imams, mullahs, evangelists, priests, rabbis, vicars must not be allowed to talk to anyone younger than 18 years old.

    The pious are dangerous.

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    In religion, strict means normal. Gender apartheid is as normal as can be in Islam.

  5. Robster says:

    From a long way away, this policy appears to be a disaster. It was strange to hear the government in the UK handing over so much of the education system to religious organisations and almost immediately came reports of creationism being taught as truth, gender discrimination, child rape and a plethora of other problems. It was all forecast by secular authorities but it would now seem to late and too big a problem to fix. Please don’t export the policy.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Another one:

    Headteacher Helen Knight has responded, saying the inspectors were using out of date information to paint a much bleaker picture than the reality.

    Ever heard that excuse before?

  7. Broga says:

    That school, sopping up public money, must have been almost impossibly bad to be closed. We know these schools are given all possible backing. Time to have much closer scrutiny of what is happening in RC Schools.

  8. DCBrighton says:

    Iftikhar, TL:DR

    Also, when I try to go to your website, I get “Internal Error”. I think that sums you up?

  9. Daz says:

    Iftikhar Ahmad

    The needs and demands of Muslim children can be met only through Muslim schools

    Muslim schools do not meet the needs of children, they fulfil the wishes of Muslim parents to segregate their children from broader society.

  10. Shiny shoes says:

    Iffy Khazi Am Mad. I think you are a dangerous fool. Teaching your religious dogma to children turns them into stupefied narrow minded bigots who treat those of other faiths or none as worthless kaffirs. This applies equally to other religions too. That’s what’s wrong with the world. Take a look at the news and witness the religious murdering and lynching each other. That’s what you get when you teach blind religious obedience to children. I can only presume that’s what you are wanting to achieve because the above is self evident even to the slowest minds. You are guilty of perpetrating genocide.

  11. barriejohn says:

    How are they going to raise more suicide bombers if their children are forced to mix with infidel children and realize that they are decent human beings just like them?

  12. Shiny shoes says:

    If a political party in the UK, or in 7 months time, England, put as their top manifesto item that religious influence and indoctrination will be totally eradicated from all schools in the country with 3 years then I think that party would have a landslide ride into power. I for one would vote for that party and spend every waking hour in canvassing on behalf of their candidate in my town. Look at the CAR, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and any other failing self destructing flyblown country. Take a long hard look and then tell me that this will never happen in the UK. Take a very long hard look and you will come to realise the threat is very real especially if we let the pious poison the minds of school children. Get religion out of schools and X rate all places of worship and close them to anyone under the age of 18.

  13. Shiny shoes says:

    And yes Mr. Iffy Khazi Am Mad, I am inferring that I consider you a stupefied narrow minded bigot. And a zealot, a caliphist, a fundamentalist purveyor of jihad and an islamofacist who wants to smash and spoil everything. If you want to live in a place where islamists have succeeded in reducing everything to the most primitive level then fuck off and go live in Syria or some other fly blown pit of suffering. No really….I mean fuck off….and I mean fuck off now. Really….fuck off and go roll in the cess pit you so obviously crave. And don’t come back to leech off decent rational people who work hard to raise the tax dollars on which you depend for your livelihood. Please fuck off…make my day.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Shiny shoes: Some people want MORE indoctrination in schools.

    The constant demand is that denominational schools be ‘inclusive’. That’s fine until inclusiveness collapses into relativism, which is to say the belief that all beliefs are more or less the same and come down to personal opinion. In other words, you can no longer say, however politely, ‘this is true, and this is false’ and it’s not a simple matter of opinion.

    Really? And Ireland would provide a fine example of opposing religious communities peacefully co-existing, I suppose!

  15. barriejohn says:

    Excellent comment on the above:

    I shall leave you with the observation of an “extremist” atheist Richard Dawkins.

    He said, to paraphrase roughly, if I suggested to you that I wanted to send my son to the Conservative Comprehensive 5 miles away, rather than the local Marxist Private School, or that my Children go to Sunday school to be raised in the Neo-liberal tradition, or that it’s important to preserve our schools republican ethos or else local children will not grow up to be republicans, you would rightly object. You would object because you would see that as political indoctrination and it is generally understood to be wrong to indoctrinate children into political viewpoints – we expect to allow children to considers these things for themselves in the fullness of time and come to their own views, even if they oppose our own.

    Why so, he asked, do we accept this about religion?

    Couldn’t have put it better myself.

  16. Trevor Blake says:

    What race is ‘Muslim’ again please? Because we don’t want to be racists against them by, say, claiming that they are all born with moral flaws. Only British children are, eh?

  17. mrspock says:

    Please explain to a committed non-pom from a land far, far away how the closing of a religious ‘free’ school can be considered a failure? If the policy of Messr Cameron & Co. results in more such closures, more power to their tweed-envaginated elbows! Perhaps someone can introduce them, especially that nice Mr ‘Smell The’ G(l)ove, to education.

    As for ‘free’, as with many things in life you get what you pay for. LLAP.

  18. barfly says:

    so racism is caused by a virus or is genetic is it now from were do you get that idea did it pop into your own head all by itself or did some other half whited idiot give you the idea. Are muslims born with this gene or virus? Or are they always a victim? If some one who is white British and he becomes a muslim as some have what is his race then.

  19. JohnMWhite says:

    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.

    This remark is hilarious. A feat of genius ironic comedy. Iftikhar is obviously on the wind up. Don’t be sucked in, everybody, no adult could possibly be stupid enough to unironically whine about racism then immediately state that all natives in a land are born with inherit negative characteristics. Jolly good show, Iftikhar.

  20. Shiny shoes says:

    I know ad hominem comments are to be discouraged but governor Abdullah Shahjan looks like a lugubrious intellectually challenged bully. Maybe the endless hours of head banging koranic recitation have erased his critical faculties. Who would entrust ther child to a thuggish looking dullard like him?

  21. Shiny shoes says:

    Is Abdullah Shahjan regarded a koranic scholar?

  22. ivan says:

    This is the world working properly. Some people tried some strict Islamic education in a free school in a free country. It crashed and burned. Hopefully someone will learn something useful from that experience, that we would never have known in a bureaucratically run education system.

    “The result [of UK state education] is that Muslim children are unable to develop self-confidence and self-esteem, therefore, majority of them leave schools with low grades.”

    That time has mostly past. Today the Muslim communities as a whole are now doing better than average. The Bangladeshi community, who mostly value true education over religious indoctrination, do far better than average. It is the dogmatic religious indoctrinators of all flavours, whether ultra-evangelical Christian, ultra-orthodox Jewish, or strict Muslim, who do badly, because they oppose thinking for yourself, which is necessary for a proper education. No one would ever have discovered the physical theories by which our satellites and mobile phones work by confining themselves to modes of thought of those communities.

    Businesses failing and going bankrupt is not an indictment of capitalisms, it is capitalism working. People trying out new ways of educating, some failing, some pushing the boundaries of performance, is what ought to happen. The quickest way we will find out what is good, what is bad, and what is superb is by giving people the freedom to try it out rather than being stifled by risk averse bureaucrats.

  23. Brian Jordan says:

    So they’re not fit to educate secondary pupils, but they can bugger up the education of children until they are eleven? Charming. At least secondary pupils have the chance to study things for themselves but primary children are prime victims for indoctrination or just plain incompetence. “Give me a child until he is seven” and all that.

  24. Brummie says:

    Well said ivan! A considered response.

  25. barriejohn says:

    Hopefully someone will learn something useful from that experience, that we would never have known in a bureaucratically run education system.

    The trouble is that we knew beforehand that a narrow, authoritarian, unscientific religious education was not the best thing for chidren’s personal development; we don’t need exeriments in education to prove that. Of course, with rigid state control of education we might never have had the child-centred practices which have transformed education for the better in this country, and which continue to irk right-wingers like Simon Heffer so much (see link below). However, I would be very wary of a free-for-all, whether it involved the religious or not, as this is children’s lives that we are playing with. I would be happier about children’s education being influenced by Maria Montessori than Rudolf Steiner, for instance!

  26. Broga says:

    @Iftikhar Ahmad: I suppose muslim schools support the murderous practice of honour killing. And they will be enthusiastic about encouraging the torture of female babies by slicing off their clitorises. Women, of course, will be treated as serfs.

    Your beliefs are repellent. Anyone who follows them has no claim to be regarded as civilised.

    If you are so keen on muslim society why the hell not go an live in one instead of preaching your foul opinions here.

  27. Stephen Mynett says:

    @Iftikhar Ahmad: what sort of poetry and literature tuition do you prefer, perhaps the Iranian method that which involves killing the artistic just because you are so touchy about people mentioning your pathetic beliefs.

    You and your kind are totally repellant.

  28. David Anderson says:

    Yuck! Just got back from a few days holiday to find the slimey, sleazbag, gilipollas, women hater Ahmad is back.

  29. Stephen Mynett says:

    @David Anderson, there is a common theme among theists in that they seem to think that if you repeat a lie often enough it must become the truth.

    Ahmed is not much different to Chicken Keeper or Ken (is he dead by the way?) it is only that some of the lies he wishes to promote are much nastier in the terms of the death and suffering they cause.

  30. Angela_K says:

    Ahmad cuts and pastes his rantings in Newspapers comment sections and on other blogs; only deluded fools like him take it seriously.

    @Ahmad, your fascist, racist, supremacist, misogynistic ideology is directly responsible for the torture and slaughter of Hashem Shaabani, a peaceful man hanged in Iran under the ridiculous charge of “Making war against god” which is just the sort of totalitarian control freakery endorsed and taught at muslim schools. As others have said, if you love islam so much why don’t you fuck off and live in one of the many failed states ruled by islam.

  31. Broga says:

    Ahmad, with no sense of embarrassment, spews his bile here whereas in the muslim fascist states he presumable admires anyone stating a Christian opinion, never mind atheist, risks being murdered. Why are there so fewrd voices opposing these extreme bigots?

    As long as muslim fascists like the bigot Ahmad are given an inch they will push to take a foot. And if given a foot they will want a yard.

    He rambles on in his incoherent bigotry assuming that he can intrude on others to whatever length he chooses.

    Here is a straightforward simple question for him. “Ahmad, to you support or oppose Female Genital Mutilation?”

  32. JohnMWhite says:

    How can sending Muslim children to a state school be a crime against humanity when there’s no such thing as a Muslim child? No one is born believing in Mohammad, Jesus, Buddha or Vishnu. Wish upon a star as hard as one may like, you cannot make a child believe an ideology except by force, and who is committing the crime then?

  33. AgentCormac says:

    Is it just me, or is Iftikhar Ahmad a muslim version Michael Gove – an obdurate, self-important, intransigent individual who is unwilling to listen to any voice other than his own and whose fingers are stuffed so far into his ears that not only can rationality no get in, but he is actually becoming brain damaged? Just a thought.

  34. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: There are similarities.

  35. Paul Cook says:

    Iftikar Ahmad you appear quite confused. Also the racist appears in you much clearer than in “all” those you so easily denounce. Clear and unambiguous, your use of language is bound in hatred and racism as is your religion:

    “In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models.”

    Why use a word like Crusader. Are you just another pathetic whining pseudo-victim bleating like a sheep against the ‘horrible westerners’ whilst living and benefitting from everything that that horrible west in this case Britain gives you. You pathetic ungrateful racist.

    Would you like to live the dream in the seat of your religion because Britain is no Islamic utpoia and it never will be. Unless you kill everyone.

    Why do you not go to Saudi Arabia and live the dream if it is so fantastic. Or the whabbi islam of Pakistan. But you won’t will you. Because you will have friends or family that live or have lived in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf, and Oh! Oh! How they hate you all you Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi ‘muslims’ how they treat you like utter sh*t like slaves – worse than us kafirs. Yes the Arabic religion you spout that is so wonderful how they the Arabs that hold the key to all that you “love” of islam how they hate your guts. Your own ‘people; in ‘your’ religion how they hate you.

    You are a racist. You have free speech to say such things for one reason. You live in Britain. You are already in a utopia you are too stupid to realise it.

  36. anotherivan says:

    “The school is in a mess because the Board of Governors have appointed a non-Muslim head teacher along with couple of non-Muslim female teachers…”

    I wonder why they chose them? Perhaps because they realised that they did actually need some good teachers as well as religious people to run an adequate school. Maybe you are right and in future they will be able to run a school competently with the people who are competent teachers and of religion too. But with a variety of religion that is anti-education, in a real sense, it is difficult.

    “The school only teaches Arabic language which is a religious language. A Muslim must learn and be well versed in standard English, Arabic and Urdu and other community languages.”

    Historically many Muslim schools have taught Arabic rather in the way that they taught “reading” the Quran, ie, without actually giving people proper facility in the language, only to be able to parrot set phrases from the written script. I wonder if you mean teaching people Arabic as a language so that they can actually go to Egypt and talk to people, or just the parrot business?

    “Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental period. This is the only solution for them to keep away from the evils of western society. Let them teach what ever the native Brits would like to teach their children. It is a crime against humanity to keep sending Muslim children to state and church schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers.”

    I always laugh when I hear about the “evils of western society” when I look at the nice well ordered countries like Pakistan, with their deep-seated corruption and violent disorder. Actually Britain’s near-secular state and secular institutions are a much better protection for you to practice your religion than the alternatives. If we were a Christian state in the way that Pakistan is a Muslim state, you’d have no chance. Even in Iran you’d be a pariah. So actually our secularism protects you, and religion is perhaps better taken out of schools. But we give you freedom to run your religious schools, and now, as you seem to realise, your challenge is to run them properly.

  37. Broga says:

    These enthusiasts for muslim schools whine and defend muslim schools by using freedom of speech which they would never have access to in their muslim paradises. They deserve only contempt for their hypocrisy and bizarre beliefs. I don’t know why if they are so enthusiastic about FGM, abusing women, honour killings and the rest of the savagery they stay here. What is really sickening is that we are providing them with an NHS, schools, Social Security and the freedom to spew their sick religious beliefs. We must be bloody insane.