It's hard not to feel at least a smidgen of sympathy for the good burghers behind the Durham free school and the Grindon Hall Christian school in Sunderland. After all, what's the point of allowing any Tom, Dick or Toby Young to open up a new place of learning if they can't then attempt to instil whichever belief system they adhere to into their young charges? If the parents want it, clearly they will come. Who quite frankly is the government or Ofsted to stick their noses in and say a school in an overwhelmingly "White British" area is failing to "prepare its students for life in modern Britain"? What is this outrageous political correctness being foisted on Christian and Jewish establishments when everyone knows the problem is with the Muslims? Why is Durham free school having its funding pulled while the "Trojan Horse" schools remain open, albeit unable to recruit new teachers?
A weaker man would at the same time as feeling a twinge of sympathy also have a jolly good laugh. From the very moment the panic over the schools in Birmingham erupted you could see this was going to happen. There can't be one rule for schools in areas mostly populated by parents who, like it or not, might prefer education with an Islamic influence for their children, and another for those whom for whatever reason feel the need to bring God into it at every turn. The fact the schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse affair did not specifically have a Islamic ethos and were rather academies is by the by: start insisting every child must know what British values are, despite the vast majority of adults not having the first clue, and you get the kind of results the Daily Mail has been wailing about. Kids asked if they know anyone who's gay! Girl possibly asked if she was a virgin! Child who says "terrorism" when questioned about Islam branded a bigot! Schools failed on the grounds of being Christian!
Except, typically, if you bother to read the reports on either school the whole "not preparing students for life in modern Britain" angle, while there, is rather secondary to the schools just not being any good in general. The Durham free school's governors, damningly, are said to "place too much emphasis on religious credentials when they are recruiting key staff and not enough on seeking candidates with excellent leadership and teaching skills." I mean, blimey, who could have predicted that might happen with free schools? Much the same is said of Grindon Hall, where "Many appointments are made without fair and open competition."
This does not make Ofsted's approach, which seems to be to ask young children questions on things they might not have the first idea about for perfectly innocent reasons, a good one. How can they possibly conclude an answer which indicates lack of preparation for life in modern Britain™ is a reflection of the school's citizenship efforts rather than that of their life outside of school? Why should the onus be on the school and not on the parents anyway, or would that be a government interference too far? Worth remembering is that for all the shock and horror over the schools in Birmingham, there was not the slightest evidence presented of active radicalisation or that extremism was being taught. Cohesion, folks, is a two-way street. If clinging on to religion in a country that's become secular is seen as marking you out as not wanting to be a part of modern Britain®, might I suggest it could be time to join forces rather than spit out the dummy and say it's not fair?
Most amusing of all is the idea the ultimate architect behind this nonsense, one senor Michael Gove, was trying "to promote a politically correct diversity agenda". Yes, that's exactly what Mr Drain the Swamp was doing. Ofsted has been essentially recreated in Gove's image, even though he's now been replaced by Nicky Morgan, who coincidentally voted against gay marriage partly on the basis of, you guessed it, her religious views, so clearly more evidence of bias there. The wiser heads might have seen the way this was going and spoke out at the time, before the education of more children was disrupted. Such though is the way of those determined to leave their mark, regardless of the consequences.
Labels: Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, Daily Mail-watch, education, free schools, Islamists, Mail-watch, Michael Gove, Ofsted, religion, Trojan Horse