25 Jun '14

News Trust at Birmingham schools needs to be rebuilt | @guardianletters

We are forming the Putting Birmingham School Kids First campaign (Comment, 24 June). It aims to, firstly, ensure any issues of governance within Birmingham schools are fixed, and fixed fast. Secondly, to challenge the false and divisive allegation that this is a problem of systematic radicalisation, extremism or terrorism. The central allegation, that there was an organised plot to radicalise schoolchildren in a handful of Birmingham schools, remains unproven. What the Ofsted reports show is some governance issues in some schools. Communities across Birmingham now believe that their children's educational potential and wellbeing is being threatened by politicians, who wish to be seen as "tough" on Muslims. The sensationalist references to extremism and national security have been deeply hurtful and damaging. Most importantly, they could prevent us finding the solutions we need to help schoolchildren in Birmingham. We will work with anyone who is willing to put the interests of our children first.The Muslim community is no different to any other faith community in having a spectrum of opinions, from liberal to conservative, on what is the correct balance between secular and religious values in the provision of education. Instead of debating these issues openly, the government has taken the completely inappropriate approach of linking this with the prevention of terrorism. Workable solutions will not appear overnight. Trust needs to be rebuilt between those who should be working together. Our role in the journey is to provide parents, staff, pupils and governors with a strong forum within which to voice their opinions and explore solutions in a safe and transparent space. We are proud that Birmingham is among the youngest and most multicultural cities in the world and stand by its people in all their diversity.Shabana Mahmood MP, Tim Brighouse (former education commissioner), Father Oliver Cross, Rev Andi Smith, Salma Yaqoob, Christine Blower, General secretary, NUT, Shabina Bano Oldknow Academy Parents Association, Joy Warmington Brap, Dr Chris Allen Lecturer in social policy, University of Birmingham, Professor Richard Hatcher School of Education, Birmingham City University, Imran Awan Senior Lecturer, Birmingham City University, Janet Hoskyns Professor emerita, Former head of school education, Birmingham City University Continue reading...

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