12 May 2015

Warnings of Trojan horse complacency risk

Birmingham headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson makes a perhaps surprising admission about her first reaction to finding a copy of the now fabled Trojan horse letter on her desk in February last year. “I read it and said to my deputy, ‘yes, we know that goes on’ and I put it to one side, and almost disregarded it,” she says. “I’d witnessed all this behaviour. Everything in that document was familiar to me: ways of trying to discredit headteachers and senior leaders – it wasn’t shocking to me at all.”

.... Next week Hewitt-Clarkson will speak at the NAHT’s Birmingham conference on defining the “British values” – including democracy, the rule of law and tolerance of different faiths – that teachers must now promote. The policy has attracted plenty of criticism, but Hewitt-Clarkson is a fan, using it to explain to parents who object to teaching on homophobia, for instance, that she has to teach pupils according to the Equality Act.

“I like anything that connects me with a school in Cornwall, or Kingston upon Thames, or Newcastle,” she says. “When you start breaking down what schools do and don’t have to do, then you get weaknesses, and something I learned through Trojan horse is that a few people will do whatever they can to exploit weakness in a system.”

[TOP RATED COMMENT] The B.B.C. and The Guardian have spent much of the time this scandal has been public knowledge advancing the idea that it is a hoax and lending credibility to the opponents of the open and plural society. A conversion, even a death bed one, is welcome.

[ANOTHER] I'm not racist or anti-islamist, but find it distasteful that people who come to this island seem encouraged to remain aloof from the rest of us. When in Rome, should be the first requirement of anyone migrating here, and the UK law overrides all cultural customs with no exceptions.

Shouldn't the teaching of religions be part of a cultural thing rather than the driving force behind the education system. Shouldn't we be encouraging inclusiveness and integration rather than showing differences based upon faith rather than fact. Should we do away with faith based schools altogether?

[ANOTHER] It's good that The Guardian is now reporting on both sides of the issue but it does highlight the dreadful record it had in investigating this in the past. [The Guardian] Read more