GOVE DEMANDS SCHOOLS TO PROMOTE MORE “BRITISH VALUES”
In the escalating row over the Trojan Horse issue, the Education secretary has said that all schools will need to promote more “British Values.” Seizing on a report, published by Ofsted, in which it stated that a “culture of fear and intimidation existed in some Birmingham schools” Michael Gove said that “putting the promotion of British values at the heart” was a “robust but considered response.”
According to the government, “freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions” were the key principles that should have been in place.
In a letter to Michael Gove, head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “The evidence suggests three broad categories of school: in some schools, the inappropriate influence of governors is widespread and deep-rooted; in others, there are significant weaknesses in governance, but the level of undue influence exerted by individual governors is less established; in a few schools, leaders have successfully resisted the attempts of governors to change the nature and ethos of their school.”
Ofsted were forced to take action on more than 21 schools, all based in Birmingham, after they were said to have had “a decisive shift away from moral relativism in the classroom.” The landmark report found an “atmosphere of intimidation, a narrow, faith-based ideology, manipulation of staff appointments and inappropriate use of school funds.” The schools inspectorate also found 10 of the schools needed improvement relating to the “Trojan horse” allegations, whilst five were placed in special measures and the rest were cleared. Several school governors face being barred from holding office.
The five schools are: Park View School, Golden Hillock School, Nansen Primary School, Saltley School and Specialist Science College and Oldknow Academy. A sixth school, Alston Primary, was already in special measures.
Speaking to MP’s in the House of Parliament, Mr Gove said, “There are questions for Birmingham Council, Ofsted and the Department of Education. We all must acknowledge that there has been a failure in the past… But no government has done more to attack extremism than this Government. We will put the promotion of British values at the heart of what every school has to deliver for children. he overwhelming majority of British Muslim parents want their children to grow up in schools that open doors rather than close minds. It is on their behalf that we have to act.”
Whilst Shabana Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said: “The contents of the Ofsted reports make distressing reading for any resident of Birmingham. But what these reports do not prove is the central charge being levelled, which was that there was an organised effort to import extremism.”
However, parents of students at the schools have hit back at the allegations. Shabina Bano who has two daughters at Oldknow Academy called the findings “utter lies.”
“My girls have been at the school for two years. In that time, I’ve seen them flourish. Their grades are good and they are happy. They were previously at a Muslim faith school, but I pulled them out. I wanted them to go to a regular state school because I want them to grow up as integrated citizens, as part of modern Britain. I researched all of the local schools and chose Oldknow because of its “outstanding” Ofsted grading. The majority of the pupils there do happen to be Muslim, but that is because it is in a Muslim area. And yes, the school does respect the religious ethos of its pupils. To me I have done my utmost best to integrate my children in society but sadly it seems that the Education is set on creating a new apartheid system with Muslims on the receiving end.”
“It feels like Britain’s political agenda is aiming at marginalising British Muslims and that Mr Gove is planting the seeds for an ‘us’ and ‘them’ culture. I absolutely stand by Oldknow Academy as being outstanding in all areas despite the latest Ofsted report because to me every child does matter regardless of creed, religion and colour.”