Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.

with 6 comments

SWP Placards, No Answer to Real Problems. 

Is the Guardian finally seeing sense?

This report has just appeared.

Birmingham council a ‘disastrous failure’ over Islamism in schools

Independent investigation sparked by ‘Trojan horse’ letter finds officials failed to act for fear of being accused of Islamophobia.

Birmingham council “disastrously” failed to act when a group of Muslim men began to promote, sometimes illegally, a fundamentalist version of Islam in some schools, because officials were afraid of being accused of racism or Islamophobia, a report has found.

The investigation, carried out by the independent adviser Ian Kershaw, was commissioned by Birmingham City council (BCC) as a result of concerns raised in a letter dated 27 November 2013, known as the “Trojan horse” letter, which suggested a number of schools in the city had been “taken over” to ensure they were run on strict Islamic principles.

The Birmingham report, compiled by Kershaw and overseen by a review group that included senior Home Office official Stephen Rimmer and representatives of the West Midlands police, interviewed many of the same witnesses and reviewed the same documents as the former counterterrorism police chief Peter Clarke, who was commissioned by the then education secretary Michael Gove to address extremism in Birmingham schools.

The article continues and states this,

The report found that a small group of governors had:

• placed unreasonable demands on head teachers to “modify curriculum provision, which denies students their right to access a broad and balanced curriculum, including the right to understand other world religions and the right to sex and relationship education”.

• placed “inappropriate demands on head teachers by repeatedly requesting information”.

• been “overly challenging and sometimes aggressive in the management of head teachers”.

• inappropriately appointed friends and relatives to the school staff.

• undermined head teachers during Ofsted inspections.

Kershaw found that elements of the five steps referred to in the Trojan Horse letter for taking over schools were present in a “large number of the schools considered as part of the investigation”.

These five steps were to: target poorly performing schools in Muslim areas; select parents to turn against schools; install governors to encourage Islamic ideals; identify key staff to disrupt from within; and to instigate a campaign of pressure.

Kershaw found evidence of all five steps at Golden Hillock School, Moseley school, Nansen primary school and Saltley school. All of those schools, with the exception of Moseley, were recently put into special measures after emergency Ofsted inspections downgraded them to “inadequate”.

There was no evidence of all five at Park View Academy, which has been at the centre of the controversy.

Kershaw concluded that the evidence collated to date “does not support a conclusion that there was a systematic plot to take over schools”.

He added: “There are concerns which require immediate attention, but the evidence is not sufficient to lead me to construe the behaviour to be a coordinated plan to improperly influence the direction and management of schools (or academies) serving schools of predominantly Islamic faith or Muslim background.”

More here.

Has the Guardian changed? Have all their writers  now dropped the automatic resort to charges about ‘Islamophobia’ when these problems were reaised.

Not really.

It remains trapped in religious multi-culturalism, as this accompanying article by  illustrates.

The Trojan horse plot shows we must clarify religion’s place in state schools

Isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice

….we need to clarify the place of religion in state schools. For example, is it reasonable to expect a school with a majority Muslim population to hold Christian prayers during assembly, daily worship apparently being a legal requirement? Should it offer Islamic prayer instead or different assemblies for pupils of different religious and non-religious backgrounds? Does modern religious diversity mean we do away with collective worship at school or adopt a multi-faith approach? Schools around the country regularly grapple with such issues.

And,

As a result of this unfortunate episode, we need to put measures in place to ensure that the teaching of religion in schools is objective, balanced and non-discriminatory, while all school activities and practices are inclusive and devoid of narrow religious or political influences. While state schools must remain sensitive to the cultural needs of all pupils, isolationist and xenophobic tendencies must be challenged robustly and not accepted as part of faith or cultural practice. Governance structures also need to be improved so that schools are more careful about whom they appoint. Extremists, even if they are non-violent, should not be allowed to work in schools or be governors, and attempts to impose puritanical agendas on schools in the public sector must not be allowed to happen again.

How about simply removing religion from “school activities and practices”, and teaching about it within the context of philosophy and cultural anthropology  in schools?

Written by Andrew Coates

July 18, 2014 at 5:59 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Stealth jihad.

    Sue R

    July 18, 2014 at 9:25 pm

  2. This is in an article by Hugh Muir in the Guardian today, “Emails circulated among a cadre of figures at one school who called themselves the Park View Brotherhood are said to display a corrosive mindset deeply at odds with the attitudes that wider society, and Gove himself, would want to instil in our children. “The all-male group discussions include explicit homophobia, highly offensive comments about British service personnel, a stated ambition to increase segregation at the school, disparagement of Muslims in sectors other than their own, scepticism about the truth of reports on the murder of [soldier] Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings, and a constant undercurrent of anti-western, anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment,” according to the draft report.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/18/trojan-horse-inquiry-draft-report-michael-gove-blob-birmingham-schools

    Andrew Coates

    July 19, 2014 at 10:38 am

  3. Some of them were claiming that Lee Rigby’s murder was a hoax. Yeah, right, he just got up and stuck his head back on afterwards. Does rather suggest the level these people operate at and that a lot of what they claim is made up, even war fatalities. They must live in a world where it is perfectly normal to invent viscious killings for political capital. Can’t trust a word they say.

    Sue R

    July 19, 2014 at 6:50 pm

  4. Andrew, I agree entirely that education should be secular. Faith schools, either in name or practice, are inherently divisive. The drive for free and academy schools has weakened local accountability and allowed a variety of zealots to take over schools. It is also clear that Gove was more affronted by Islamic fundamentalists than any of the other varieties; and this needs saying. The other target for the Government in this present furore is the actual existence of Local Education Authorities. The growth of academies and free schools has fatally weakened many LEAs, which, despite their evident weaknesses, still are open to some local democratic control. Wilshire has explicitly called for the dismemberment of the Birmingham LEA.I found the articles by Rick Hatcher informative, comprehensive and balanced in this regard. The bigotry of some of the Birmingham Governors must be seen in the context of the overall educational policy of the Government.

    Badger

    July 20, 2014 at 9:12 am

  5. Although chopping someone into small pieces is an example of viscosity, what I meant was vicious.

    Sue R

    July 20, 2014 at 10:41 am

  6. A nasty bunch indeed, clearly unfit to decide on children’s education.

    Andrew Coates

    July 20, 2014 at 11:37 am


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