26/10/2013 16:26 BST

Muslims Leaders Call Derby Al-Madinah School 'National Embarrassment'

Founding Governor Abdullah Shahjan outside Al Madina School, Derby after the controversial Muslim free school was branded "dysfunctional" by inspectors who have declared it is failing.

Muslims leaders have called a failing Muslim free schol a "national embarrassment" but said the scandal had been misreported by the press.

The devastating official Ofsted report slammed the Al-Madinah Islamic school in Derby for being "in chaos," amid accusations of introducing strict religious practices.

An inspection at the school , which is run by the Al-Madinah Education Trust, was brought forward after fears were raised over questionable teaching standards and allegations it has discriminated against female staff.

derby school muslim

Founding Governor Abdullah Shahjan outside Al Madina School, Derby after the controversial Muslim free school was branded 'dysfunctional'

The Derby Telegraph reported that the chairman of the trustees, Shazia Parveen, will step down before the end of the year. The school must submit a plan to the Department of Education to prove they are fit to run the school, by next Friday.

In a statement read to reporters yesterday, Parveen said: "Over the last few years, I have sacrificed my own time, family and health for this noble cause – to help educate the children of our communities.

"Much has been said about our school. We, the governing body, have tried our best; we acknowledge the weaknesses within our school and have taken the DfE's recommendations very seriously.

"We are highly committed to delivering quality education in our school, a trust that we have taken from the community.

"Therefore, I plan to step down from my position as chairman of the governing body as soon as the transition is over and this is clearly for the best interests of our children.

"We are working on a transition strategy that will lead to a permanent long-term solution.

"This interim period will allow us the opportunity to restructure the trust, modify the governing body with people who bring varied skills equalled by having the interest of our children and their education, not self-interest at heart, all with a view to significantly raising the level of leadership and management at Al-Madinah School.

"In conclusion, we are ready to learn from our mistakes but not willing to fail our students."

Derby Jamia Mosque, the Pakistan Community Centre, Derby Islamic Centre and JET, a charity, said in a joint statement: "We believe the position of the trustees and the governing board has become untenable, the vision and principles on which they 'sold' the school to the parents, pupils, central government and the wider community have not been adhered to.

|As organisations that represent over 80% of the Pakistani Muslim Community in Derby, we strongly urge that the trustand governing body offer their resignations to the Department of Education; this would then allow the department to consider alternative options and ensure minimum disruption for the pupils.

"Though it has to be accepted that some of the national media reporting has been unfair, inaccurate and disproportionate, creating a negative image of the school.''

The Derby Community Education Forum. a group of concerned locals created in response to concerns about the school, said questions remain unanswered.

The group's chair Shaid Nazir said: “It is unacceptable for a school leadership to refuse to address questions from current and prospective parents, education professionals and concerned community members. The community had concerns over a year ago and the founders had refused to address them.

"We now demand that everything is conducted in a transparent manner, and the leadership address our questions otherwise step down. The school has become stigmatised and needs a new leadership, rebranding and collaborative partnerships with excellent schools if it is to survive.

“Children’s education will be irrevocably damaged should the school close. The community feels it has unecessarily been brought into disrepute - despite the fact that DCEF had identified serious concerns all of which have sadly come to pass as well as escalating them to the appropriate authorities over a year ago. The organisations who endorsed and supported the school application must explain why they did not carry out the necessary due diligence.”