Derby's Al-Madinah free school takes legal advice over critical letter by Lord Nash


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The Independent Online

The Muslim free school threatened with closure by the Government said on Monday it was seeking legal advice over the way it had been treated.

Al-Madinah free school in Derby was given an ultimatum by Lord Nash, the minister with responsibility for free schools and academies, to put its house in order or face the withdrawal of its funding.

In particular, he wanted assurances by Tuesday that it no longer adopted discriminatory practices towards its staff or pupils - it had been accused of insisting all female staff wore headscarves regardless of their religion.

The school has announced a change of policy and said that the dress code will not be compulsory.  However, in a statement on its website, it added: “At this point, the school is struggling to see how we are being treated comparably with other schools.

“Consequently, while we intend to co-operate with the Department for Education, we have also sought the advice of the school’s solicitors.”

The school said it had been given less than an hour’s notice that Lord Nash’s letter was to be published. “To say that it came as a bolt out of the blue was an understatement,” it said.

The school is also expected to be the subject of a highly critical report by education standards watchdog Ofsted later this week. Inspectors visited the school two weeks ago and raised concerns with the acting principal Stuart Wilson that the necessary background checks on staff for any evidence of criminal records had not been completed.  It closed for a week - reopening last Monday.