A free school fails: Hurrah!

The inspection of the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derby was brought forward after claims female staff were made to cover their heads even if they were not Muslim, and pupils were segregated – with girls forced to sit at the back of the classroom.

The leaked report describes the faith school as “in chaos” and in danger of collapsing, as well as “dysfunctional. It is expected to suggest the school be put in special measures.

The report, seen by the Guardian, says: “Leadership and management, including governance, are inadequate and have been unable to improve the school.

“Staff have been appointed to key roles for which they do not have qualifications and experience. For example, most of the primary school teachers have not taught before and the head of the primary school is experienced in teaching secondary-aged pupils only.”

The school is one of Michael Gove’s flagship free schools and opened in September last year.

Contrary to what you will be told, this is part of the success of the scheme. Experimentation does fail, often. But it’s only through that process of experimentation that we manage to make things better over time. And the joy of a “market” approach, in this case just one that is not centrally directed in detail by a bureaucracy is that we do indeed get more experimentation. As long as known failures get closed down quickly then the system will, through this method, continue to improve.

42 comments on “A free school fails: Hurrah!

  1. Is this an experiment that has failed, or an experiment OFSTED has decided it doesn’t want to see tried?

  2. I am utterly unconvinced that this is a good thing based on the evidence presented. If they were all Islamist psychopaths, which to be fair, they probably are, that is a good reason. But look at the stated reasons:

    The inspection of the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derby was brought forward after claims female staff were made to cover their heads even if they were not Muslim, and pupils were segregated – with girls forced to sit at the back of the classroom.

    I have to say that when I read that not a f**k was given. I do not see either of those reasons as justification for closing the school down. I would support segregation of entire classes actually, and I am not sure I would disapprove of all female British teachers showing some modesty up to and including covering their hair. Even if that is an extreme position I doubt that the best performing schools in Britain (being largely Jewish) do any different.

    The leaked report describes the faith school as “in chaos” and in danger of collapsing, as well as “dysfunctional. It is expected to suggest the school be put in special measures.

    That describes pretty much every British school I know of.

    “Staff have been appointed to key roles for which they do not have qualifications and experience.

    i.e. They are not Union members with years of failure at State schools.

    For example, most of the primary school teachers have not taught before and the head of the primary school is experienced in teaching secondary-aged pupils only.”

    Again I have to say that around here not a f**k was given. They are primary school teachers. They do not need any experience and the whole point of these schools is to get away from the bitter dregs of human failure that staff current schools.

    This looks like the bureaucracy suppressing the competition. Or would if they were not Islamist nutters.

  3. Haven’t read the article fully but from what you quote there, it’s funny how The Guardian seems to be putting the failure down to lack of skills and qualification on the part of the employees and not the fact that what they were doing there was absolutely dingbat crazy and has no place here in 21st Century Britain.

  4. If parents want to send their kids to sky fairy schools, that’s their problem, frankly. If you’re going to spit in the face of opportunity, don’t be surprised if your kids don’t do very well.

  5. The Stigler – “If parents want to send their kids to sky fairy schools, that’s their problem, frankly. If you’re going to spit in the face of opportunity, don’t be surprised if your kids don’t do very well.”

    You pick a religious school at random and send one of your children there, and a State-run secular school at random and send your other child there, the one with the sky fairy is almost certainly going to do better. And have less chance of being sexually abused by the looks of it too.

    It is child abuse to send your child to a secular Comprehensive. Not to one that teaches about Sky Fairies. Well, with one or two exceptions in each case.

  6. Wrong sky fairy to succeed:

    http://m.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/red-flag-on-fifth-islamic-school/story-e6frgczx-1226741298459#mm-premium

    The three children who came to Aus with us all went to an independent sky fairy school, admittedly of the Anglican variety which admits all faiths, and they all did very well. Youngest has known no other school, she has a year to go. I think they pick the parents as much as the pupils. They can because it is the best school in our town. Virtually every professional person sends their kids there.

  7. SMFS,

    You may be right about “at random”, but I’ll bet that the worst religious free schools are going to be worse than the worst secular free schools.

    I’m not defending comprehensives. The reason that old church schools were better was that they were independently created by parents, not because of sky fairyism. They could, by law, request a faith school, in a way that rationalists could not.

  8. The Stigler – “You may be right about “at random”, but I’ll bet that the worst religious free schools are going to be worse than the worst secular free schools.”

    You think? I don’t think you are going to be stabbed by a crazed Somali immigrant because you interrupted him smoking crack even at this school. You can’t say the same about some British schools. Or even higher education institutions.

    “The reason that old church schools were better was that they were independently created by parents, not because of sky fairyism. They could, by law, request a faith school, in a way that rationalists could not.”

    The rationalists could have called themselves Deists and opened a school. The Steiner schools are proof that they could do it. But secular rationalists don’t want to. As they do not want to go down to the slums of Calcutta and tend the dying or build Cathedrals or even write something like the Messiah.

  9. @Som’uch bin Suttlti

    ‘I would support segregation of entire classes actually, and I am not sure I would disapprove of all female British teachers showing some modesty up to and including covering their hair.’

    I like it, very droll.

    Re sky fairies, similarly to our host I went to a Catholic public school (a better one than our host’s, mind you), and we were taught creationism and evolution. The creationism – even in the hands of priests (and lay catholics) – was only ever taught as allegory.

    ie blokes did stand there and say ‘God created the world in seven days’, but they made perfectly clear that this was a literal reading of the bible, that they didn’t believe it and neither should we.

    It was essentially analysis, in the same way that, in English, we analysed Austen or Dickens. None of us ever thought there really had been a case called Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

    This was in the 1980s; I really struggle to believe that ‘creationism’ as taught now – outside these truly nutty Islamic schools, where the whole point seems to be permanent separation from everyone else – is a serious threat.

  10. @SMFS ‘secular rationalists don’t want…to go down to the slums of Calcutta’

    Eh? Lots of people working in places like that are not religious.

  11. Not so much a failure of the Free Schools concept, more a case of Muslims not managing to move forward into the 19th century, let alone the 20th or 21st.

  12. What sort of parent would send a child to the closest legal equivalent to a Madrassa?
    A parent who wants nothing to do with the modern world, and wants ignorant children, especially girls.
    So the parents find a school that obliges their love of ignorance, such as this one.
    I’m all for experimentation but this experiment was set up to fail.

  13. Interested – “Re sky fairies, similarly to our host I went to a Catholic public school (a better one than our host’s, mind you)”

    A better one? Do tell.

    “The creationism – even in the hands of priests (and lay catholics) – was only ever taught as allegory.”

    The Catholics have never held to the literal word of the Bible and it would be hard to think of a time when they did think that God literally created the world. They accepted, with reservations, evolution in the 19th century I think.

    Interested – “Eh? Lots of people working in places like that are not religious.”

    Sure. Some people need a bit of poverty porn to put on their CVs for when they apply for university. Not quite the same thing though.

    bloke in france – “What sort of parent would send a child to the closest legal equivalent to a Madrassa? A parent who wants nothing to do with the modern world, and wants ignorant children, especially girls.”

    Or perhaps one who does not want his daughter to turn out a total slut. I think many parents can sympathise with the parents. It is just a pity that nutters running this one are such nutters.

    “I’m all for experimentation but this experiment was set up to fail.”

    I once had a Special Branch-type document in my hands from British India. Which flatly stated Britain had nothing to fear from Muslims organising for independence. As these organisations were always corrupt. Culture is a difficult thing to shift.

  14. The BBC has been hammering this school for weeks. It is an excellent indication of how much the Left fear Free Schools that they can throw Islamic allies under the bus like this.

    If a State school with an overwhelmingly Muslim attendance had behaved in this way you would be hearing crickets chirping on the BBC.

  15. @SMFS ‘Sure. Some people need a bit of poverty porn to put on their CVs for when they apply for university.’

    ‘Or perhaps one who does not want his daughter to turn out a total slut.’

    Lots of people go to places like Calcutta because they want to help people. I know a couple in their 40s who’ve been there for the last 20 years. They’re not that bothered about their CVs.

    Lots of girls who go to even the worst comps don’t turn into sluts.

    Your stock in trade is wild exaggeration, mixed with raving madness, and seasoned with genuine nastiness. I like it!

  16. @Rob

    ‘If a State school with an overwhelmingly Muslim attendance had behaved in this way you would be hearing crickets chirping on the BBC.’

    Perhaps it doesn’t happen in LEA schools. I suspect it doesn’t, because the non Muslim kids’ parents would surely complain. But then again, maybe they are intimidated, and the teaching unions are raising this one because they have an axe to grind.

    Either way, to be fair to the BBC (for once), they are at least discussing it.

  17. I have to agree with Rob – the Leftists are revealing their true colours. They believe that state control over education trumps cultural diversity. As one would expect, really.

  18. ‘Or perhaps one who does not want his daughter to turn out a total slut.’

    Sounds like the sort of argument used by the muslim gangs which groomed and raped white girls.

  19. They believe that state control over education trumps cultural diversity.

    this is a surprise? I always thought that the point of ‘diversity’ was – pace whoever it was on crossbenchers in the Lords – they all think diversely, they all live diversely, and then they all diversely vote Labour.

    At least I always assumed diversity was a means, not an end.

  20. I hate to say I told you so but I wrote this for Lib Con back in 2008 in a review of a Civitas pamphlet on Free Schools:

    “For example, it certainly doesn’t, to my mind, follow that even with an admissions system that forbids any form of selection; it will necessarily follow that Free Schools will reduce the amount of segregation in the English system quite so easily as the pamphlet seems to imply. If anything I would expect, in the early stages of a Free School roll out, to see religious segregation actually increase within the system as a whole as those religious groups who are as yet, only minimally catered for with ‘faith schools’ within the existing state system; and particularly Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, are likely to be amongst the keenest of the early adopters. That will inevitably carry a heavy political premium, particularly when it comes to the creation of Muslim ‘faith schools’ in what is, and likely to remain, a highly febrile political and media environment requiring something more substantial than Nick’s suggested mandatory short course in British values to offset concerns that the system may result in the creation of state-funded madrassas.”

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2008/06/16/swedish-lesson/

    And that’s precisely the trap that Gove walked into because of his short-term need to get the policy off the ground as quickly as possible, which meant accepting the inevitable rash of early applications from sectarian religious schools and utter crackpots, i.e. the Steineristas.

  21. Can Sheikh Mufti Fallah Shuftiness explain to me why any school that has the sky fairy’s help would ever fail? Damn humans messing with His plans, no doubt.

  22. SMFS
    In a choice between extremes, if forced to choose between a talented slut and a brainless saint I’d choose the slut.

    Mr Ecks
    As it happens, I’ve got a daughter, at a faith school too, but no creationism in class. How much money have you got? Perhaps we can come to some arrangement…

  23. What if certain ‘persons’ take offence at this ‘blatant discrimination against Muslims’ and self-detonate due to ‘anger’?

  24. To be fair, I suspect the concerns about this school first arose some time back, when the head teacher and deputy head were persecuted into resigning after a campaign of virulent abuse by the islamist extremists on the board of governors.
    You do need appropriate training and qualifications to teach, at whatever level. This school was well on the way to having no qualified classroom staff left. And the people they did have, had not been CRB checked. So it’s not surprising that the inspection was brought forward, and the school placed into special measures.

  25. ‘Or perhaps one who does not want his daughter to turn out a total slut.’

    That seems a rather binary choice. My family, not being wealthy, only managed to put me through public school. The rest went to their various comps. The females inevitably end up married to the father of their children. It didn’t seem necessary to send them to some benighted 7th C. Koranic loony-bin to obtain this outcome.

    Of course this whole brouhaha is begging the question. In my world, the State would have no involvement in education, there would be no compulsory schooling, and no standardised teaching beyond that which the eventual consumers of the products of schools (such as industry or the universities – which would also be liberated from State control) deemed appropriate.

  26. Going back to the point about experimentation,

    Is there a problem with it in schools? If I come up with a crap product, generally I go bust and/or the most that people suffer is buying it once, and resolving never to do so again.

    But with a school, you could be messing up people’s education or life’s chances for good. If you can’t read, say, by the time you leave primary school, you’re pretty well stuffed. You’re not going to catch up. I’m not saying don’t have experiments, or that it’s as complicated as medical trials. But it’s a bit more difficult than widgets.

  27. “bloke in france
    October 17, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    SMFS
    In a choice between extremes, if forced to choose between a talented slut and a brainless saint I’d choose the slut.”
    According to the reports about sex jihad if you send your daughter to an Islamic school you can still get a slut just one who is living in Syria.

  28. David G
    “and no standardised teaching beyond that which the eventual consumers of the products of schools (such as industry or the universities – which would also be liberated from State control) deemed appropriate.’

    How does that work? What McDonalds needs from its future e/ees is a bit different to what ARM wants. Are they, and every university going to sit down and agree a syllabus?

    “No standardised teaching – full stop” makes sense as a policy, whether or not I agree with it. “Nebulous, unelected and unconnected organisations with conflicting interests to decide curriculum” is not an obvious winner.

  29. Luke
    A standardised education may be useful (like, yknwo sppiik da tongue an rite 2).
    But a central body to oversee it is doubtful. Think about Tim’s posts a couple of days back.
    Everything is local, all needs are individual. Big charities are national and even international. Thus you get stupid outcomes like Oxfam against CO2, RSPB in favour of the bird chompers, War on Want protectionist.

  30. Pingback: Free schools: the market as a discovery mechanism | Left Outside

  31. When we say ‘Muslim’ it was never going to be the highly educated doctor from Mumbai or Istanbul seeking the same top-drawer education he got was it. When the free schools experiment started we were always going to get in-bred illiterates from Kashmir trying to impose their silly pyjamas on their kids. There was always going to be some Muslim school like this undermining the whole project.

    I’m sorry, Michael Gove should surely have seen this coming. And you can’t experiment with kids’ education. If the gov’t is paying for it, then it must ensure standards will be at an acceptable level BEFORE it parts with a penny.

  32. In next week’s episode of “Bullshit From The Bronze Age” we will be discussing why ham sandwiches are evil, how to spot whether your house has leprosy, and why God wants you to mutilate your penis.

    Seriously, it’s the 21st century and we’re paying for schools that teach tribal value system bollocks. What do you expect?

  33. Luke: I don’t see why a credentialling system that is acceptable to a whole swathe of disparate employers and professions should not arise organically without the top-down imprimatur of government. Presumably the skills required by ARM are a superset of those required by McDonalds viz. literacy, punctuality, good work ethic etc. plus numeracy, creativity and so forth.

  34. “Staff have been appointed to key roles for which they do not have qualifications and experience. For example, most of the primary school teachers have not taught before and the head of the primary school is experienced in teaching secondary-aged pupils only.”

    And there was the hyena in the sick room.

  35. Interested – “Lots of girls who go to even the worst comps don’t turn into sluts.”

    According to your standards. Possibly even mine. But according to everyone in these Bless’d Isles? I think not. And I think that even illiterates from Bangladesh ought to have the right to choose otherwise.

    And given that married families are now a minority in the UK, I would be inclined to dispute that word “lots”. Some perhaps.

    “Your stock in trade is wild exaggeration, mixed with raving madness, and seasoned with genuine nastiness. I like it!”

    I work on it.

    DocBud – “Sounds like the sort of argument used by the muslim gangs which groomed and raped white girls.”

    I am sure it does. I was trying to think what those parents would think. And some degree of the tail end of the Bell curve of people who think thusly probably groom and rape runaways.

    But a lot of parents have trouble with the type of moral education the government and its unions want to give children. It is not just the groomers and paedophiles.

    Mr Ecks – “I want your daughter to turn out to be a total slut.”

    That is the point about other people’s daughters innit?

    JamesV – “Can Sheikh Mufti Fallah Shuftiness explain to me why any school that has the sky fairy’s help would ever fail? Damn humans messing with His plans, no doubt.”

    Da Joos wot did it, no doubt.

    bloke in france – “In a choice between extremes, if forced to choose between a talented slut and a brainless saint I’d choose the slut.”

    But that is not the choice is it? Faith schools invariably do better than secular ones. The choice is really between a Fat Slag and a burkha. I don’t blame a lot of Muslim parents for wanting the latter. They are not, after all, middle class and so able to send their children to private schools full of hockey sticks. So their daughters can turn out tattoo’ed and pregnant while on benefits, or they can learn some contempt for slags.

    “As it happens, I’ve got a daughter, at a faith school too”

    Hey what? Can you explain why given your contempt for people who believe in Sky Fairies?

    Monty – “You do need appropriate training and qualifications to teach, at whatever level. This school was well on the way to having no qualified classroom staff left.”

    The key word is appropriate. Given that the training they get is largely not appropriate, it hardly matters if they have a piece of paper from the State or not. Take the battle for phonetics. Everyone knows the traditional approach works better but the teachers and their Union won’t accept it. A random stranger would do a better job of teaching English. In fact they probably did, given that parents and grand parents probably have more to do with children reading than school teachers do.

    “And the people they did have, had not been CRB checked.”

    Another meaningless piece of bureaucratic make-work.

    David Gillies – “That seems a rather binary choice.”

    What choices do you think working class people in places like Bradford actually get?

    “The females inevitably end up married to the father of their children. It didn’t seem necessary to send them to some benighted 7th C. Koranic loony-bin to obtain this outcome.”

    Katie Price has been married to all the fathers of her children I believe. I do not want to make any comment on your relatives, although there must be a story behind you being the only one to go public, but there is more to being a decent person than marrying the father of your children.

    David – “According to the reports about sex jihad if you send your daughter to an Islamic school you can still get a slut just one who is living in Syria.”

    Yeah but they are making that up aren’t they? It is more likely that they are raping all the women they can catch.

  36. Here we go again with SMFS and his bipolar view of society disorder-

    But that is not the choice is it? Faith schools invariably do better than secular ones. The choice is really between a Fat Slag and a burkha. I don’t blame a lot of Muslim parents for wanting the latter. They are not, after all, middle class and so able to send their children to private schools full of hockey sticks. So their daughters can turn out tattoo’ed and pregnant while on benefits, or they can learn some contempt for slags.

    There’s this middle class who are nice, and there’s scum, and that’s it. Nobody else exists.

  37. But it isn’t a binary view to say there are a lot, a hell of a lot, of very decent Muslim parents who do worry about the culutre of British secular schools, who therefore would like to send their children, especially their daughters to a faith school, a Muslim faith school ideally, but who don’t have the money to find a fee-paying Muslim school and don’t have the wherewithal to set up their own. So the Free School project should have been ideal for them. Instead the Deltas and the Epsilons from Peshawar get to run riot again and, yes, I do blame Michael Gove for that.

  38. @ Ironman

    Parents who choose second class status for their daughters are not “very decent”, they are ignorant which is precisely what Islam demands of its followers. No intelligent, rational person could be a Muslim or voluntarily subject their daughters to the ignominy of being a female Muslim.

    We need to stop pussyfooting around and call Islam exactly what it is: an evil, medieval, misogynistic cult that should not be accommodated by a liberal democracy. Individuals should be free to believe that a robbing, murdering megalomaniac received revelation from a sky fairy, but they should not be allowed to impose their irrational beliefs on others, especially their children as this is what perpetuates ignorance from one generation to the next. Young Muslims need to be encouraged to question their faith which cannot happen if the state funds Islamic schools which serve to reinforce ignorance.

  39. Ian B – “There’s this middle class who are nice, and there’s scum, and that’s it. Nobody else exists.”

    Yeah but there are varieties to the scum. And it is not so much that nobody else exists as no one else is catered for. There was a time when decent working class people could get a decent working class education. Even if they did not go to a Grammar and enter the middle class. Those days are gone. Instead they get variations on the Fat Slags option for their grandchildren. So give them time and there will only be two options.

    DocBud – “No intelligent, rational person could be a Muslim or voluntarily subject their daughters to the ignominy of being a female Muslim.”

    And yet there are intelligent and rational Muslims. And being a female Muslim is not the worst fate I could think of offhand.

    “We need to stop pussyfooting around and call Islam exactly what it is: an evil, medieval, misogynistic cult that should not be accommodated by a liberal democracy.”

    So what are you going to do? Try the Spanish Inquisition and auto de fe’s? We can’t choose this option as they are inside the fence now and there is no sign we are going to get rid of them soon. On the contrary, we need to start thinking about how we are going to survive as minorities in our ancestral lands.

    “Individuals should be free to believe that a robbing, murdering megalomaniac received revelation from a sky fairy, but they should not be allowed to impose their irrational beliefs on others, especially their children as this is what perpetuates ignorance from one generation to the next.”

    So you plan to kidnap all the Muslim children from their parents?

  40. What I wouldn’t do, SMFS, is allow Muslims to educate their children on their terms and keep them in ignorance. I’d insist that all children growing up in the UK be educated in the national curriculum which would (as I believe it does) include an understanding of the history and values of The Enlightenment, encouraging pupils to think for themselves and to question and investigate all beliefs and ideas. As a result, Muslim pupils will come to a realisation that there are alternatives to the irrational, medieval cult that their parents espouse and have brought them up to believe.

    I do not believe that there are intelligent, rational devout Muslims. Intelligence and rationality would lead a person to question the nature of Islam and once one does that it is clear that it is just a cult, founded by a megalomaniac trying to control his followers, with no more validity than the cults of Jim Jones, David Koresh or Ron Hubbard. I know intelligent, rational nominal Muslims (they’re engineers so how could they be anything but intelligent and rational) whose lives are not influenced at all by the religion of their birth.

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