9 Jun '14

News The lesson of Birmingham? State education is in chaos | John Harris

Some schools' conduct was an offence to liberal principles, and we cannot ignore that. But religion is not the main issue hereOn the face of it the Birmingham schools controversy is deeply complicated. Ofsted issue their damning verdicts, and the schools concerned fiercely dispute their findings; the row divides not just government and opposition, but the cabinet. What may or may not have happened is the subject of wildly different accounts; among its other confounding details, the story was partly triggered by a letter believed to be a hoax. If you want some indication of how messy it has all become, consider the fact that five separate investigations are now at various stages of completion, with no clear end in sight.Today there was a shift in what is supposed to be the nub of the story, from state schools supposedly threatened by a jihadist plot to the different failings chronicled in the Ofsted reports: inadequate work "to raise students' awareness of the risks of extremism", a claim that "pupils have limited knowledge of religious beliefs other than Islam", gender segregation and staff who discourage girls "from speaking to boys and from actively participating in extracurricular activities"; and small groups of governors "making significant changes" to schools' ethos and culture "without full consultation". Continue reading...

Read the full story in Guardian Education
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