Primary Education News

9 Jun '14

News Ofsted publishing 'Trojan horse' plot reports and Michael Gove's statement: Politics live blog

Park View hits back at Ofsted and Michael Gove - Summary 11.49am BST My colleague Steven Morris is at Park View. He's sent me this.It's hard to over-emphasise the degree of anger at the gates of Park View school from teachers, parents, pupils. I just heard one parent say the only extreme thing about the school was the extreme dedication of the teachers and the extremely good results the school has been achieving. A pupil just made a good point about the timing - in the middle of exams. Why couldn't it have coincided with half term - or why couldn't the government have waited until after exam time? It is uncomfortable to see pupils and teachers having to dodge journalists and camera crews. 11.47am BST Saltley school in Birmingham, another that is being downgraded by Ofsted today and placed in special measures, has put out a statement saying that the Ofsted report into it is "seriously flawed". Here's an extract. The bold is from the Saltley statement, not from me.According to widespread reporting in the media, Ofsteds inspections of 21 schools in Birmingham were made in response to the so-called Trojan Horse affair, alleging improper influence in schools exercised by extremists. We wish to stress therefore that Ofsted found not the slightest shred of evidence that there is or ever has been such influence at this school. Parents and the wider community may be wholly confident that students here are safe and well looked after ...In the draft version of its 2014 report, Ofsted used evidence which was apparently gleaned from a Sunday newspaper, not from any observations and interviews at the school itself. The governing body pointed this out and Ofsted deleted the reference. But the fact that Ofsted was prepared to use such evidence, and would have done so publicly if the governing body had not drawn attention to it, raises substantial doubts about Ofsteds professionalism and objectivity. The governing body believes that the report was not written with due respect for appropriate evidence. 11.40am BST Yesterday the Birmingham Labour MPs Liam Byrne and Shabana Mahmood issued a joint statement about the the Ofsted investigations. Here is an extract.Now thousands of Muslim parents feel that they and their children are automatically under suspicion, and that the education they receive will be viewed through the prism of counter-terrorism.We simply do not accept this. 11.33am BST Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, has issued a statement on the Ofsted Birmingham findings. Here it is in full.He said that although most schools did not have serious failings, Ofsted did uncover some "unacceptable practice".The reports are clear that the majority of leadership teams working in schools held the line for students despite immense personal pressure and a very real sense of isolation.We should take comfort in the willingness of staff to resist intimidation and put their careers on the line to protect their students.We see three major boundaries: first, governance must be fair and accountable. NAHT has already called for the introduction of formal training for governors along with greater powers to remove governors where there is serious cause for concern. Second, employment practice must adhere to regulation and law. Most importantly, children educated in state schools should be free from discrimination and entitled to receive a broad and balanced curriculum. This includes teaching in sport, music, science, religious education and sex and relationship education. There are examples where all three boundaries have been crossed.Given that autonomy has actually been encouraged and vigilance relaxed, in all but the most serious cases schools should first be offered the chance to bring their own house in order.We also need to learn longer term lessons: we need a confidential route for staff to raise concerns; a clearer statement of the basic entitlement of pupils; a more coherent mechanism to investigate allegations than we have seen in recent weeks; and resources to raise awareness and train staff and governors in the Prevent strategy. 11.23am BST My colleague Steven Morris has send me more reaction to the Ofsted findings from Birmingham.Azhar Qaym, a member of the Muslim Association of Birmingham, said the probe into the schools had been politically-motivated.He said: People have come into Birmingham from London who don't understand the city and don't have our best interests at heart. This is a politically-motivated investigation. 11.19am BST Here are the key points from the Park View statements (see 10.02am and10.59am.) Park View educational trust said the way its three schools (Park View, Golden Hillocks and Nansen) had been condemned and put into special measures was "truly shocking".[Politicians] have put Muslim children from these communities at substantial risk of not being accepted as equal, legitimate and valued members of British society, and they have allowed suspicion to be cast on the aspiration of their parents and anyone else who believes that these children deserve the same rights and excellent standard of education as any other child.Our schools do not tolerate or promote extremism of any kind. We have made a major commitment to raising all students' awareness of extremism. People who know and have worked with our schools are appalled at the way we have been misrepresented. 10.59am BST And here is the full statement from Lee Donaghy, assistant principal at Park View school, which he delivered alongside David Hughes earlier. (See 10.02am.)On behalf of the staff at Park View, I want to say first and foremost that we reject this report's findings. It is simply not true that the school does not do enough to protect our pupils from the risks of extremism.Every day my colleagues and I work hard to ensure our pupils are disciplined, understand and respect difference and, most of all, achieve well, and in the process gain a full understanding of their religion, the surest guards against extremism of any kind. 10.33am BST Here's some more reaction to the Ofsted findings. It's from Jahan Mahmood, a Birmingham-based researcher on extremism, who claims the way the Ofsted inspections were carried out risked "radicalising" the children Ofsted is supposed to protect. I've taken the quote from the Press Association.It beggars belief, how this has been done. The way Ofsted has gone about this is an own goal and in the long run you risk radicalising kids rather than engaging with them. 10.07am BST Lee Donaghy, assistant principal, at Park View, also condemned the Ofsted report. He said the school was part of the solution, not part of the problem, describing it as a beacon of hope against isolation, poverty, drugs, crime and yes potential extremism. I will post his full quotes soon. 10.02am BST Here is the full statement from David Hughes, the vice chair of Park View educational trust. He stressed that he was not a Muslim himself, but a practising Christian.I have been a governor at Park View school for 17 years and I'm immensely proud of what's been achieved here and what's been done, and very distressed about what happening to undo that work ...On behalf of staff, students and parents who have worked so hard improve their schools, we are extremely disappointed to confirm that Ofsted has graded Park View, Golden Hillocks and Nansen schools as inadequate and put them into special measures. 9.41am BST Park View school is responding now to the Ofsted report criticising it.David Hughes, vice chair of Park View academy trust, told a news conference that the trust wholly rejected the Ofsted findings.Academy trust confirms Park View, Golden Hillock & Nansen schools put into special measures by Ofsted #trojanhorse'OFSTED came to our schools looking for segregation and extremism. Did not find any' Park View chair of gov"Speed with which Park View has been condemned is truly shocking" - chair of academy trust and governor David Hughes #trojanhorse 9.31am BST Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, has issued this response to the announcement from David Cameron about allowing no-notice Ofsted inspections at schools.This is an entirely weak and inadequate response by David Cameron to the gravity of the situation in Birmingham. What we're seeing in Birmingham is part of the systematic failings in the current school system.Cameron's schools policy has delivered a vacuum in the local oversight of our schools, leaving children exposed to falling standards and vulnerable to risks posed by extremists. 9.07am BST Overnight David Cameron issued the following statement.Protecting our children is one of the first duties of government and that is why the issue of alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response. Just what that takeover entails is central to understanding what the Trojan horse row is all about, and the fall-out between May and Gove. It comes down to a definition of extremism.The claims that have bounced around include allegations of segregated classes, compulsory prayers and incendiary preachers at school assemblies but most have crumbled under examination. So the focus for investigation has slipped from extremism to "an awareness of the risks associated with extremism" in the elided phrase now used by Ofsted inspectors to condemn the schools most heavily involved, such as Park View academy.Park View academy, the Birmingham secondary school at the centre of the alleged Islamist plot known as Trojan horse, will be told next week that it has failed to adequately warn its pupils about extremism and that staff are intimidated by the school's leadership.A controversial Ofsted report ordered by Michael Gove and leaked to the Guardian will highlight that one of the reasons why the school previously rated outstanding will be downgraded to inadequate is that teachers have not received enough training in the government's anti-extremism Prevent programme. Continue reading...

Read the full story in Guardian Education
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