Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Witch Witch Witch

Quite a feat the current fiasco over the alleged radicalisation of some schools in Birmingham. Everyone comes out of this looking bad. Michael Gove looks like he has lost control of some schools and his policy of school independence with a reduced role for LEAs seems to be unravelling. I once thought no-one could run education less ineptly than an LEA, how wrong I was.

Teresa May looks rather less than Prime Minister material after she has been caught briefing against a colleague. Until this week she had looked like that rarest of things. A safe pair of hands as Home Secretary, she now looks like she may yet drop the ball.

Michael Wilshaw, Witch Finder General at Ofsted tries to look tough, but has to explain why all these schools which have allegedly become hot beds of radical thought at the behest of their governing bodies, where all top draw schools until very recently. Now after the education g(r)eeks have left the Torjan horse. The formally myopic Ofsted are seeing witches in every classroom, where before there was just light, awe and wonder. These schools' crime remember was to be effectively acting as faith schools, rather than bog standard academies

Hang on a minute if they were faith schools, most of this stuff would be ok would it not? If they were Jewish, Catholic, C of E or Muslim faith schools. These acts of religious observance, special assemblies segregating by sex, selectively binning or glossing over the bits of the curriculum you disagree with that would be pretty much ok?

You see nobody has actually found any of these schools passing round pamphlets preaching violent jihad or offering cheap trips to Syria or the Yemen in exchange for martyrdom as far as I'm aware. All that seems to have happened is the governing bodies have been pushing (sometimes fairly forcefully agreed and sometimes there has been some bullying) for a more "faith" based approach to education. Far from ideal, but not in itself evidence of a bomb plot.

So actually this whole shebang is a labelling issue not an education issue is it? For me it misses the point. Its not that people are gaming the system it is that the system is a bad one. Faith and education should never mix. Not because I'm scared of Muslim extremism (although I am a bit) or because I think theses schools will have been fostering Islamists (they might conceivably have been a bit). Although I  bet the internet. A couple of dodgy wars on behalf of UK PLC and a few dodgy Imams at Friday prayers have done way more harm than any school has.

No I'm against the idea because I think if we are going to have a national curriculum we didn't ought to be bolting on just a selection of other people's views on creation, god, morality food rules, dress codes and burial rites. This stuff is important and you can believe what you will and I will fight for your right to believe it, but to put it along side those things we want everybody to know and understand and then say. "Them others" over there don't buy into all our faith and morality stuff they have their own ideas or worse no faith at all, but ours it right and they are just mistaken. Well that seems likely to sow the seeds of division and it's something you should be working out in your own time and not using my tax for.

Rather than punishing the "guilty" perhaps we should be concentrating on how we work with the "innocents"?


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