Five Muslim dominated state schools in Birmingham have been placed into special measures, following yesterday’s damning report into the Trojan Horse plot. In one case, a loudspeaker was placed in the playground to call pupils to prayer, and another invited a hate preacher who had previously called for “victory to the Muslims in Afghanistan”.
At the Oldknow Academy school fate, the raffle and tombola were banned as it was un-Islamic. Non-Muslim pupils were also banned from a subsidised trip to Saudi Arabia, in which Muslim staff and pupils stayed in five star hotels. The most recent trip cost £50,000, of which the school paid £32,000 out of public funds, including £800 on tips.
Overall the school inspector Ofsted found a ‘culture of fear and intimidation’ had developed in some of the schools.
The three of the schools put into special measures are run by the Park View Educational Trust, who are said to restrict the curriculum ‘conservative Islamic perspective’.
Under the system of special measures the leadership teams in schools can be sacked and their governors can be replaced with an executive committee. If the schools fail to improve they can be closed down. However Gove announced much more sweeping changes to the education system.
All schools will now have a duty to “actively promote British values” and school inspectors Ofsted will no longer warn schools before they are inspected. Up until now, schools have had a few days to prepare for inspections, but in this case the Trojan Horse schools had time to invent fictitiously classes on Christianity to look more diverse than they were. They had fooled the inspectors to such an extent that they had been rated “outstanding”, the highest possible mark.
The report has led to significant soul searching in Britain, as Ministers made clear that the government had turned a blind eye to extremism. The Home Secretary Theresa May claimed that the Prevent Strategy, brought in by the last Labour government after the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks had “handed money to extremists”.
She claimed that a distinction had been drawn between ‘extremists’ and ‘violent extremists’, and that Ministers had been supportive of those with radical views as long as they did not personally turn violent. Mrs May made it clear that this would now end.
Another concern is that the actions of governors in these schools were only uncovered after the discovery of the Trojan Horse letter, which is now thought to be a fake. Prior to that Ofsted had reported no problems in the schools, leading many to wonder if there are other schools in a similar position.
State schools in Britain are supposed to be secular, although there is a system of Voluntary Aided Schools that receive government support but are religious. Almost all of them are Catholic schools.