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New blow for Al-Madinah free school over 'confusing' admissions rules

The troubled Al-Madinah free school has been dealt a fresh blow after it was found to be in breach of the admissions code.

This summer, the country’s first Islamic free school was forced to close down its secondary provision following criticism of the “poor quality” of teaching. It was also accused of discriminating against female pupils and staff, and failing in its duty to keep its pupils safe.

Now the Derby primary has been censured by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) for four breaches of the school admissions code.

It is only allowed to reserve half of its places to Muslim children, but the latest report from the OSA points out several "confusing" elements of the school’s admissions policy.

These include failing to explain how it decides whether an applicant is a Muslim and not clearly outlining its arrangements for children before they reach compulsory school age.

The report also points out confusing elements of its over-subscription criteria and accuses the school of failing to publish its policies online in time.

New versions of the school's admissions procedures appear to have been published on its website this week, which require applicants of the Islamic faith to confirm that they agree with several of the religions key principles, including “belief in the oneness of Allah” and “belief in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad”, to verify their faith.

In February, education minister Lord Nash announced that it would be in the “best interests of parents and pupils” to close the secondary school.

“I am particularly concerned at the poor quality of secondary teaching and the lack of breadth in the secondary curriculum,” he wrote. “I have come to the conclusion that it would simply not be in the interests of parents or pupils at the secondary school to continue to fund provision which has failed them in the manner now apparent.”

At the time, a DfE spokesperson said the Al-Madinah governing body needed “to focus efforts on the primary school in order to bring about the level of improvement required”.

Related stories:

Al Madinah becomes second free school forced to shut over poor quality education - February 2014

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