Posted by: Andrew | April 3, 2014

Trojan Horse – some reflections.

There’s been lots on the news in Birmingham about the ‘Trojan Horse’ Document purporting to reveal a ‘Jihadist’ plot to take over some Birmingham schools. Whilst the truth, reliability or credibility of this is investigated here are my reflections. Firstly there are many Muslims in Birmingham appalled by the allegations if they turn out to be true. Many are wanting the very best education for their children so that they can participate fully in British society. We must not treat the community as a monolith but recognise the diversity within Islam in Birmingham. Secondly where there are concerns they should be properly investigated without people being branded Islamophobic. This is time for urgent, serious, calm action not screaming headlines, rumours or false accusations. Birmingham has a strong tradition of good relations between faiths it’s vital that we draw on those good relationships at this time to support those feeling under attack (from any direction) to stand up for those who feel their views or beliefs are being trampled on and to ensure that Birmingham is a good place for all young people to grow up in.

With regards the alleged activities within schools here are some thoughts on what this says about priorities for any school.

1) Staff have the right to do their work without feeling intimidated or bullied. It’s vital that governors, local authorities, Academies and Unions should work together to ensure a positive, safe working environment for all staff.

2) State schools whether run by a Local Authority or an Academy or a Faith School should teach the whole National Curriculum to ensure that pupils are given the same opportunities as all others in the country. Local Authorities, OFSTED and Academies should support teachers and governors to make sure this happens.

3) Unless the foundation document of a school states otherwise (eg wanting staff from a particular faith background), staff should be appointed on merit alone.

4) Schools should work hard to provide the very best education for all their pupils so that they can achieve their full potential. Schools should also make sure pupils are equipped for life outside school in the wider society by encouraging pupils to meet and mix with peers from different ethnic or faith backgrounds.

5) Schools should make sure that the needs of all pupils and not just the majority are catered for. This means equipping staff to understand pupils backgrounds and finding space to celebrate and cater for every pupil.

Whilst all 5 of these happen in the vast majority of schools, it’s easy for one or more of them to be eroded by parents, governors or staff with a particular agenda. Lets work to ensure it doesn’t happen – anywhere.

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