Thanks to a leak, we now know how damning the OFSTED report on Al-Madinah free school in Derby actually is. We have seen how Mr Gove has rushed in to ‘rescue’ children from ‘failing’ schools in the past. One example was Sinfin nearby in Derby which was still a fully functioning school before Gove sent his storm troopers in to quickly convert it to City of Derby Academy, now corporately badged as part of the Greenwood Dale empire. So what of the four hundred or so children at Al-Madinah? How is their education to be continued without further disruption? It is not their fault that their parents foolishly signed up for a school that has turned out to be useless, parents who, no doubt, thought their children would be royally indoctrinated into a Muslim faith and culture. I regret all so-called faith schools but this one has turned out to be a school only in name. However, it cannot just be closed and the children and their parents left to flounder.
Be that as it may, Al-Madinah could be something of a watershed for both Gove and his new ‘shadow’, Tristram Hunt. Obviously, Al-Madinah is an extreme example but it does show the folly of the whole ‘free school’ phenomenon: they’ve started up in unsuitable buildings which nonetheless have been well furnished at public expense but with, apparently, nobody with much experience of teaching or running a school. Self-evidently, these children would have been much better off in a local-authority run school or, even, an academy which had been based on an existing school. Hunt has an ‘open goal’ to expose the utter foolhardiness of Gove’s reckless policies if he can summon the courage to believe that public opinion will be behind him and not Gove’s ideology. Gove, already under pressure for his constant meddling with the exam system, should come under greater scrutiny for his ‘free’ school policy.
When Gove’s political epitaph is finally written (oh, make it soon!), we might find ‘Al-Madinah’ written on his heart.