A controversial Islamic faith school in Derby – under fire for forcing female staff to wear headscarves – abruptly shut its doors on Wednesday hours after the arrival of inspectors from Ofsted, citing unspecified “health and safety” as the reason.
Parents who visited the Al-Madinah school, which opened last year as part of the government’s free school programme, said they were told by staff that the reason for the sudden closure was confidential. In a statement, Ofsted said: “We can confirm that Ofsted is currently undertaking a two-day inspection of the Al-Madinah school in Derby.
The inspection and the closure comes less than two weeks after a teacher quit the school which has about 200 pupils from reception class to age 13, saying all female staff were being required to follow Islamic dress codes and that pupils were being segregated in classrooms, with girls sitting at the back.
The inspection by Ofsted was triggered by complaints about the school after the Derby Telegraph revealed the allegations. The school is also being investigated by the Education Funding Agency, the schools’ financial watchdog, over alleged irregularities involving contracts with suppliers, while the Department for Education is said to have had the school under review before the public allegations were made. The Department for Education said: “We are waiting for Ofsted’s final report and considering all legal options.”
A note to parents on the school’s website from head teacher Stuart Wilson told parents: “Owing to a health and safety issue, I have taken the decision to close the school to primary and secondary pupils until I am confident that all children are safe on site.” The school is expected to reopen “in the very near future,” according to the message.