Derby’s Al-Madinah school still no better, says second damning report

The Derby Telegraph is reporting that a second damning report on Derby’s failing Muslim free school has been published and says that no progress has been made in the past few weeks since it was placed in special measures and “the school remains in chaos”…

…The latest report, which was published this afternoon, said there was no sign of improvement at the school, insufficient action had been taken to tackle failures in leadership and teaching and it was less stable than during the last inspection in October.

It went to say that “the school is not improving because relationships between school leaders, at all levels, are destructive and deteriorating” and 47 pupils and five members of staff have resigned since the initial inspection in October.

But Barry Day, chief executive of Greenwood Dale Trust, who was asked by the Government to investigate how the school could be turned around, still thinks that with the right guidance and management to school can improve.

He has just completed a 10-day assessment of the school – which has sites in Nelson Street and Friar Gate – and is preparing to make recommendations to the Department for Education and his own board of trustees.

He has also drawn up an action plan and completed a senior leadership report for Ofsted – something the management of the school had failed to do.

He said: “The monitoring report was never going to make good reading. It is very negative about the school following on from the previous report.

“But the action plan that we have supplied has been approved by Ofsted – without it they would have shut the school.

“I am willing to supply staff to help turn things around but it won’t be easy and will involve a great deal of hard work and for the time being I recommend that Safeena Higgins remains as acting head as she has been the saviour of the situation.

“But the school is unlikely to become part of our trust because, as I have told the DfE already, specialist finance and health and safety experts need to sort issues out separately, while we concentrate on helping out with the academic side.”

Mr Day has promised to supply some of the staff from his 22 academies to help the school over the next few months and he is likely to take a place himself on the governing body when it is re-organised after the end of January, when the current trustees are due to leave.

Having carried out a “due diligence” exercise, Mr Day has concluded that urgent changes need to be made.

He said: “The primary school in Friar Gate is not fit for purpose and the play area is not even safe. We have stopped children using the playground but of course that leaves them without an outdoor exercise area.

“Midland House, in Nelson Street, where the secondary children are based, is about a quarter full and there are not enough staff left to manage both sites properly.

“So it would make sense to combine both age groups on the Nelson Street site as soon as possible and creating extra outdoor areas there.”

Mr Day is anxious that more staff are recruited and said that some former staff, who left because of the “dysfunctional” state of the school, as Ofsted reported in October, might wish to return.

He is also concerned that existing pupils do not leave because the school could become unviable.

Mr Day said: “There is still much to do to resolve the issues raised by Ofsted and our priority is to make sure the school has a sustainable future. When that has been achieved I will be in a much better position to advise my board further.

“The DfE is presently looking at the governance of the school. We are very keen to help ensure there is strong governance and we will work closely with the DfE to achieve this.”

Four parent representatives from the newly-formed school’s Parents and Friends Association listened to Mr Day’s conclusions and were particularly interested to hear that the Muslim faith aspect of the school would remain…

Mr Day said that he hoped the next Ofsted monitoring visit, which could be in late January, would show some progress based on the plans under way and being proposed for January.

He said: “I have spoken with Schools Minister Lord Nash, who is carefully monitoring the situation at the school.

“He has told me he wants the school to prosper.”…

More (including the full monitoring letter) at:  Derby’s Al-Madinah school still no better, says second damning report

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