Female teachers at a Muslim school have been told to cover their heads with Islamic scarves during school hours - even if they are not Muslim.
at Al-Madinah School, Derby, claim they have been told to sign new
contracts agreeing to wear hijabs and even make girls sit at the back of
The Muslim faith
school, which caters for 200 students aged four to 16, is also thought
to have forbidden teachers from bringing in non-Halal food or wearing
staff have been spotted removing the headwear immediately after
stepping outside the school building during lunch hour, but today
refused to reveal the extent of the school’s demands.
is thought that at least five teachers at the school have complained to
union bosses about the dress code change - which was introduced over
Stunned staff at the free school
- who faced losing their jobs if they did not agree - are
now working with the National Union of Teachers to seek legal advice.
Arguile, branch secretary of Derby National Union of Teachers (NUT),
insists that the possible breach of employment law is a result of the
Al-Madinah's status as a free school.
said: 'We have always had a number of concerns about this school ever
since it was first set up as essentially they can do what they like. There is no buffer between them and the state and no protection for staff and pupils. Our
understanding is that the teaching staff were told about the
contractual changes over the summer in time for the new academic year. But
at least five teachers - both male and female - have made complaints to
the union of concerns about the school breaching employment law. We
will now be seeking legal advice in order to determine what action to
take - but it may very well be that teachers have to bite the bullet and
agree. Free schools
set their own rules, curriculum and dress codes and so long as pupils
and staff are aware of them before joining then there is no upset. But forcing people to agree to contractual changes or face being out-of-work could breach employment law.'
Nick Raine, regional NUT officer, said: 'We are very worried about the school
and the education of the 200 children there. It's one thing to have a dress code which we can challenge and quite another to build it into a contract. The school is publicly accountable so there needs to be greater transparency.'
However, acting Principal, Stuart Wilson, says he has not received any complaints from staff.
He said: 'I've been told not to speak about the school's policy. I haven't received any complaints from members of staff.'
The school, which caters for primary-age children and secondary children, was set up in September 2012.
It is based in two different locations in Derby - one in Midland House, Nelson Street and the other in Norman House, Friar Gate.
then head teacher Andrew Cutts-Mckay, who has left after less than a
year in post, said at the time that the school was being set up so that
‘the timetable will be flexible with time for Islamic teaching but
pupils will be able to opt out of this and there will be a chance to
learn about other faiths’.
said the school would ‘honour all faiths’ and that he envisaged a
school where 50 percent of pupils are Islamic and the other half were