The controversial Al Madinah school, the first ‘free’ school in Derby, has summarily been closed by OFSTED. Following worrying allegations about what was happening inside the school, OFSTED visited and the school was closed after only the first day. Initial reports suggested this was due to ‘health and safety’ issues but it has emerged that there were irregularities regarding ‘safeguarding’ record keeping. Yesterday (3 October) BBC East Midlands Today was reporting that the school had been judged ‘inadequate’ in all categories.
I cannot think of another example of a school being closed so quickly. Even schools that have received the lowest OFSTED judgements continue functioning and are assisted to improve. Closing a school and leaving children bereft of their education is a very serious step. It is hard to imagine that a school within the local authority system could have got to this stage without anyone noticing. This, then, is the product of Michael Gove’s new educational world where a ‘free’ school can operate as it wishes until somebody finally spots severe problems and then, in accordance with ‘market forces’, it shuts!