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Sir Tim Brighouse poses a few Trojan Horse questions for Michael Gove and Ofsted

Sir Tim Brighouse poses a few Trojan Horse questions for Michael Gove and Ofsted

🕔13.Jun 2014

A former Birmingham Education Director has said that Michael Gove ought to have considered stepping aside from the Trojan Horse investigation because he wrote a book that described Islamism as a totalitarian ideology which “turns to hellish violence and oppression”.

Sir Tim Brighouse said he wondered whether it was pure coincidence that the Trojan Horse plot arising from leaked letters outlining alleged infiltration of schools by hardline Muslims had the same title as a chapter in Gove’s book Celsius 7/7, which was published in 2006.

In the book Gove draws a distinction between what he calls the “great historical faith of Islam” and Islamism, which he compares to the Nazis and communism.

He discusses the factors that led to the development of large-scale Muslim terrorism and how the West has failed to stand up for its liberal values in the face of this pressure, including his analysis of the alliance between Muslim fundamentalists and the Western left.

Writing on the TES Connect website, Brighouse asks: “What is the provenance of the Trojan Horse letter? Was it real or a hoax and is it pure co-incidence that it has the same title as a chapter of a book, Celsius 7/7, written by Michael Gove?

“Did that coincidence and his published views on Islam cause him to consider, as it should have done, stepping aside in this matter and handing over responsibility to his Schools Minister David Laws, just as Vince Cable did on the Murdoch issue earlier in the Parliament.

“If he had concerns about the behaviour of the governors of the academies in Birmingham, why didn’t Michael Gove send one or two of his officers to governing body meetings – as he had a duty so to do as holder of the private contract with the trust?

“And why did he so recently approve one academy’s sponsorship of two other of the schools now found by Ofsted to be inadequate?”

Brighouse poses 20 questions about what he calls “the curious incident of the Trojan Horse in the middle of Birmingham” and criticises the conduct of Ofsted and its snap inspection of 21 city schools.

Ofsted’s results, published this week, condemned a “culture of fear and intimidation” that had developed in some Birmingham schools where governors were imposing a narrow faith-based ideology.

Brighouse demands to know why Ofsted inspectors reported uncorroborated accounts of past events after quizzing pupils and teachers at the schools. In the past, Ofsted inspections have been based purely on events actually observed by inspectors when visiting the schools.

Many of the claims put forward in the Ofsted reports – separation of pupils by gender, invitations to radical preachers and the suppression of dance and music lessons – were based on what the inspectors had been told, rather than what they saw.

One of Brighouse’s questions asks whether state-aided faith schools should continue to exist. He comments that if the answer is yes, is it fair that there are 51 primary and nine secondary Catholic aided schools in Birmingham but just two Islamic aided schools?

He continues: “How does the Government intend to create a situation where such inequity is removed In Birmingham and other cities with large Muslim populations?

“Will part of ‘promoting British values’ involve discontinuing the requirement that schools should have an act of collective worship mainly or wholly Christian in character?

“Will this be replaced by a duty on schools to show respect for people of all faiths and none and charge all schools with promoting the social, cultural, moral and spiritual wellbeing of a civilised and peaceful society? “Should there be a protocol in every LA setting out the proper role of governor and professional agreed by local branches of the National Governors’ Association and teacher unions to be used for whistleblowing in cases of persistent bullying or infringement of their proper role by a governor?”

It’s emerged that Birmingham City Council is to conduct a survey asking children what they think an “excellent, inclusive and truly contemporary British education” looks like.

The initiative was announced by council chief executive Mark Rogers in a blog for the Municipal Journal. Rogers warned that the furore over Trojan Horse risked alienating school children.

He warned: “There are occasions when it seems that some of those who are pursuing agendas can end up appearing detached from those who are actually caught up in them.

“Regulators can be distracted by the (futile) pursuit of the infallible inspection; legislators, similarly, can drive up the cul-de-sac named Perfect Policy Place. And, meanwhile, on the ground the presumed beneficiaries of all these efforts can get more and more overlooked and, if we’re not careful, seriously distressed.”

Cover Image: Learning Exchange


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