Ministers have been forced to parachute in a new sponsor to take over the running of the country’s first Muslim free school after it faced accusations of discrimination towards staff and pupils and was failed by inspectors.
Schools minister Lord Nash has written to the board of trustees at the Al-Madinah Free School in Derby informing them that the school will be taken under new governance, led by the Greenwood Dale Trust, which oversees 22 academies.
The decision comes after a series of controversial setbacks to hit the east Midlands school, including accusations of religious and sexual discrimination towards both staff and students.
The school was then forced to shut down for a week after Ofsted inspectors visited the school on the grounds of health and safety.
A subsequent Ofsted inspection found the school to be inadequate in every single category, with the watchdog adding that the institution was “in chaos”.
In his letter to the board of trustees, Lord Nash wrote that he was not satisfied the board of trustees had “demonstrated a strong basis for the transformation required at the school”.
“I cannot tolerate any child experiencing a poor quality of education in any state funded school and am therefore determined to ensure there is a swift resolution,” he wrote.
“I have decided that the needs of the pupils at AI-Madinah school would be best served by bringing in a more experienced Trust with the skills and capability required to deliver the improvements needed at the school.”
Al-Madinah’s trustees have already informed the Department for Education of their intention to resign, according to the letter.
The Tory peer has also been forced to write to the Discovery Free School in Crawley, in West Sussex, which was also placed into special measures by Ofsted as well as being slapped with a financial notice to improve by the Education Funding Agency.
In his letter, Lord Nash warned the governing body that it is in danger of losing its funding agreement and being closed down due to him being “extremely concerned” with the quality of education the students at Discovery were receiving.
The trustees have been required to produce a so-called “further action statement” informing the DfE of their plans to improve.
A spokesman for the department said the “vast majority” of free schools were performing well with three-quarters rated good or outstanding.
“But where there is failure we will not hesitate to intervene,” he added. “The Department for Education will take swift action when children are being denied the education they deserve, no matter what type of school they attend.”