Latest update: July 4th, 2014
“During a recent academy fête, raffles and tombolas were banned because they are considered un-Islamic.
“During the inspection senior leaders told Her Majesty’s Inspectors that a madrasa [a school for teaching Islamic theology] had been established in the academy and had been paid for from the academy’s budget.”
In a so-called advice note summarizing the inspections, Ofsted Director Michael Wilshaw writes that his inspectors found a “culture of fear and intimidation” in some schools and that not enough was being done to “protect children from extremism.” He adds:
“Some head teachers, including those with a proud record of raising standards, said that they have been marginalized or forced out of their jobs.
“Some head teachers reported that there has been an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham in order to alter their character and ethos.
“In one primary school, governors opposed the head teacher’s commitment to mixed-gender swimming lessons. The Chair of Governors in another school, against the wishes of the head teacher, introduced madrasa programs of study into the personal, health and social education curriculum.
“The evidence shows that governors have recently exerted inappropriate influence on policy and the day-to-day running of several schools in Birmingham. In other schools, leaders have struggled to resist attempts by governing bodies to use their powers to change the school in line with governors’ personal views.
“In several of the schools inspected, children are being badly prepared for life in modern Britain. It is my view that the active promotion of a narrow set of values and beliefs in some of the schools is making children vulnerable to segregation and emotional dislocation from wider society.
“They do not ensure that a broad and balanced curriculum equips pupils to live and work in a multi-cultural, multi-faith and democratic Britain. As a result, children are not being encouraged to develop tolerant attitudes towards all faiths and all cultures.
Wilshaw also berates the Birmingham City Council for failing to “keep pupils safe from the potential risks of radicalization and extremism.”
In response to the findings, British Education Secretary Michael Gove told Parliament on June 9 that from now on, all 20,000 primary and secondary schools in the United Kingdom will be required to “actively promote British values.”
Gove also said he would revamp the regulatory process to allow more centralized control of British schools. Moreover, he promised to draft new rules allowing Ofsted to conduct snap inspections of any school with no warning.
The move comes amid reports that the previous practice of giving advance notice of an inspection allowed schools in Birmingham to put on hastily arranged shows of cultural inclusivity.
A report by the Education Funding Agency—which conducted its own investigation of the so-called Trojan Horse schools—indicated that school administrators ordered teachers to temporarily add Christianity to the learning schedule to appease visiting inspectors.
This may explain why several of the schools that failed Ofsted inspections in 2014 were rated good or outstanding in 2012 and 2013.
But the heads of the downgraded schools say they are the subject of a government witch-hunt. David Hughes, the vice chair of Park View Educational Trust—which runs three of the schools at the center of the row—said he would file a lawsuit against the government to try to force Ofsted to reverse its findings. In a statement Hughes said:
“We wholeheartedly dispute the validity of these gradings. Park View, Golden Hillock and Nansens are categorically not inadequate schools. Our Ofsted inspections were ordered in a climate of suspicion, created by the hoax Trojan letter and by the anonymous unproven allegations about our schools in the media. Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot.”
Meanwhile, Sky News reported on June 3 that senior leaders at three schools in Birmingham alerted the government more than two decades ago about the rising influence of Muslim extremists in the school system, but that their concerns were dismissed because of political correctness.
About the Author: The writer is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group, one of the oldest and most influential foreign policy think tanks in Spain.
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