Schools Minister Intervenes In Failing Al-Madinah And Discovery Free Schools

The Al-Madinah free school in Derby and the Discovery new school in Crawley, West Sussex, have both been placed in special measures and are currently under investigation. Reports suggest that both schools have been managed incompetently, causing the schools to fail inspections by Ofsted. Al-Madinah has decided to replace its trustees, whilst supervision of the school has been passed onto the chief executive of the Greenwood Dale foundation trust. The Discovery new school faces closure following an Ofsted report which highlighted the school’s lack of progress, meaning it could be the first free school to face forced closure. The Department for Education will not hesitate to take swift action against schools that fail to provide adequate education, however, critics have argued that the government’s schools policy has fundamental flaws.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has highlighted that the local maintained schools will have to handle any consequences if the possible closure of Discovery transpires.

Even though local authorities are no longer responsible for free schools and academies, according to Lord Nash’s letter to the chair of governors, if the school loses its funding agreement, which is looking probable, it will be the local authority’s responsibility to sort out schooling for the children affected by Michael Gove’s free school policy, said Courtney.

Established in 2011, Discovery is a school that follows Montessori principles, derived from the work of Maria Montessori, an Italian pioneer in her field. With around 60 students, the school’s leadership was negatively assessed by Ofsted inspectors in its first audit in June of this year. In three out of four categories, including pupil achievement, quality of teaching, leadership, and management, the inspection panel awarded the lowest rating of "inadequate." Inspectors determined that "too many pupils risked leaving the school without being able to read and write appropriately" and that, unless quickly corrected, "pupils are unlikely to thrive in their secondary school and future endeavors."


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