Al-Madinah school in Derby had been accused of imposing strict Islamic regulations, including segregation by gender
A Muslim faith school accused of imposing strict Islamic practices has closed on the first day of an investigation by Ofsted over a “health and safety” issue.
The schools regulator began a two-day visit to Al-Madinah in Derby on Tuesday.
The BBC reported that unnamed former staff members of Al-Madinah, which opened as a free school in September last year, had alleged that girls were forced to sit at the back of the classroom, and that female staff members, including non-Muslims, had been forced to wear the hijab.
Acting head teacher Stuart Wilson said the school would close temporarily.
Writing on the school website, he said: “Owing to a health and safety issue, I have taken the decision to close the school to primary and secondary pupils until I am confident that all children are safe on site.
“As parents, you will be informed directly, and on the website, when you are able to send your children back to school. I expect this to be in the very near future.
“Assuring you that we have your children’s best interests at heart.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “We were already investigating this school before allegations became public.
“We discussed the problems with Ofsted and it launched an immediate inspection. We are waiting for Ofsted’s final report and considering all legal options.”
The free school was opened in September 2012. Its first head, Andrew Cutts-Mckay, left after less than a year in the job.
On its website, it describes “a strong Muslim ethos” with shorter holidays and longer school days “to maximise opportunities for pupil achievement and success”.
It adds: “At the centre of our school is a community of pupils, able to enjoy learning in a caring Islamic environment which promotes a culture of high expectations and outstanding performance.”
The Education Funding Agency – from which the school gets its public funding – is also investigating alleged financial irregularities, the BBC reported.