Our happiness that the Al Madinah ‘free school’ in Derby is to have its secondary section closed forthwith, is tempered by our concern for those pupils who, through no fault of their own, have suffered such a poor start to their secondary schooling. We hope they are able to make as smooth a transition as possible to another local school.
The decision to ‘pull the plug’, taken by Education Minister Lord Nash, will have seemed inevitable to anyone who has read what OFSTED had to say about this school but the plight of Al Madinah highlights the folly behind the whole ‘free school’ project. Public money has been lavished on these schools which are not operating at anything like capacity, can employ unqualified ‘teachers’, to operate sometimes in inappropriate buildings, overseen by inexperienced governors and where, in some cases, financial mismanagement has been alleged.
Yet Michael Gove ploughs on, disregarding evidence and contrary advice, dismissing those who criticise him as “enemies of promise”. What price the “promise” of the young people at Al Madinah, who now have to pick up the pieces of their tattered secondary school education?