Primary Education News

9 Jun '14

News The Guardian view on the Birmingham schools row: more dogma than dynamite | Editorial

For all the outrage about Ofsted's findings, scarcely any of them suggested indoctrination in terrorAhead of yesterday's batch-baked Ofsted reports on the 21 Birmingham schools feared to have been caught up in "Islamification", Theresa May and Michael Gove pointed the finger at one another, both bemoaned problems inherited from Labour, and the opposition decried more recent failures of governance. The inspectorate duly identified a "culture of fear and intimidation" when it reported, but its boss Sir Michael Wilshaw was careful to stress that this had taken hold since Ofsted had last cast an eye over the same institutions, which was sometimes mere months ago.The Birmingham blame game is plain to see, but it is harder to single out precisely what the blame is for. Vague talk about a plot to take over schools conflates two potentially serious issues. The first, which should surely apply with equal force to institutions with any sort of religious character, is the doctrinaire distortion of curriculum or ethos. The second is the specific promotion of violence to young minds, or at least of violent ideas. In other times and places from the medieval crusades to 20th-century Northern Ireland there have been ties between all manner of spiritual sects and dark temporal forces. In early 21st-century Britain, however, jihadist ideology forges a particular and real, if rare, connection between militant Islamism and terrorism. If deeds like the 7/7 bombings or the murder of Lee Rigby were being promoted or excused in any English school, that would be a problem which no government could ignore. Continue reading...

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