More on the 'Trojan Horse plot'
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday April 23 2014
There is much media coverage in The Independent on Sunday, The Daily and Sunday Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Guardian, and BBC News on the alleged ‘Trojan Horse plot’ following the Sunday Telegraph’s revelation of leaked reports into the schools in Birmingham.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the leaked reports from Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) substantiate many of the allegations against the schools.
Of the 17 inspected by Ofsted, 5 are to be graded “inadequate” for leadership and management and to be placed in “special measures” while another school is already under such measures. The special measures give Ofsted powers to remove the schools’ leadership teams.
Nine other schools are expected to be graded “requiring improvement” because the “plot is deemed less advanced, or where secular head teachers are resisting,” the paper reports.
The Sunday Telegraph further notes that the DfE report into Park View, Golden Hillock secondary schools and Nansen primary school criticises them for “transgressing” principles of equality and secularism as inspectors found practices of gender segregation and the curriculum was “Islamised”.
The veracity of the claims to be published in the reports however, cannot be confirmed until the reports are placed in the public domain. Especially since the anonymous letter outlining the “Trojan Horse plot” that sparked the initial investigations has yet to be established as authentic.
As for claims to the reasons for placing the schools in special measures and grading them as ‘inadequate’, it is worth recalling the bluster and copious coverage of outlandish claims in relation to the Al Madinah school in Derby.
As documented in a Channel 4 News report, the Al-Madinah free school in Derby was put under “special measures” due to financial mismanagement by the governors and conflicts of interest rather than over allegations the school segregated students by gender and forced female staff members to wear the hijab.
What is even more striking are the remarks of the former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, that Muslims need to accept “British values”, as media coverage on the alleged Trojan Horse plot unfolds.
According to the Daily Mail, Straw stated ‘We have to accept and the schools with a majority of Muslim parents have to accept – as they do if they are Hindu, Sikh, Jewish or Christian – that we also live within the United Kingdom. Alongside values which are religiously based, there has to understanding that this is the UK and there is a set of values – some of which I would say are Christian based – which permeate our sense of citizenship.’
It seems Straw is steeped in the illusion that Muslims face conflicting pressures between their faith and national identity despite the overwhelming evidence indicating otherwise.
The Gallup 2009 found that 77% of Muslims identify with the UK in comparison to 50% in the general population. Similarly, a Demos poll in 2011 found that 83% of Muslims agreed with the statement “I am proud to be a British citizen” compared to 79% of the general population.
Studies by the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at Manchester University, the Open Society Institute, and Institute for Social and Economic Research have further reinforced research findings that Muslims are significantly more likely to identify with British national identity.
It is hard not to observe in the media’s coverage of the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot a loss of perspective on faith schools in our education sector and insidious murmurs of a witch-hunt. Muslim faith schools have demonstrated considerable success in the comparatively fewer years they have enjoyed state support. Outstanding achievement in delivering education can be seen, for example, in Tauheedul Islamic Girls School’s which was awarded a prize for Excellence at the Muslim News Awards this year, having topped a league table of 3,000 state-funded schools based on more than 20 official Government indicators.
Indeed, the Muslim News reports that over half of Muslim schools in England have surpassed the national average of students achieving 5 or more GCSE’s or equivalent A*- C grades including English and Maths GCSEs.
Toby Young rightly points out in a blog on the Telegraph website that “The truth is that 99 per cent of faith schools in England, including Muslim faith schools, are scrupulously observant of all the rules…. By and large, they are islands of excellence in a sea of mediocrity, part of the solution not part of the problem, and we shouldn’t allow the “Trojan Horse” controversy to blind us to that fact.”