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News - 16 October 2013

Gove urged to monitor Free Schools 'more closely'

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has written to education secretary Michael Gove urging him to monitor Free Schools more closely following the problems at Al-Madinah School which was closed temporarily because of safety concerns.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“Free schools are state-funded schools set up by faith groups, parents, teachers and other individuals and groups. They are directly accountable to the Education Secretary as they are not within the local authority sphere of influence.”

Al-Madinah School was closed for seven days earlier this month after a single day of inspections by Ofsted which found incomplete records of child protection checks for staff. And concerns were raised about female teachers at the school being told to wear the hijab even if they were not Muslim.

In his letter Mr Hunt said:
"As I am sure you will agree, there should be no excuse for underperformance in any school. But it is especially troubling that 400 pupils should be deprived of a week of schooling because a publicly funded free school failed in its duty to meet basic child safety requirements."

Mr Hunt went on to ask whether Mr Gove was satisfied with current arrangements for spotting underperformance in free schools.

The Department for Education did not address many of these questions in its statement, but it did say: "We were already investigating this school before allegations became public. We discussed the problems with Ofsted and it launched an immediate inspection.

The school has been given a deadline of 22 October to address nine further action points and must provide a plan setting out a clear management structure by the start of November.
Ofsted is expected to publish its report on the school in the next week or so.

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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