Whatever rights there may have been about the so-called Trojan Horse affair – and it is questionable if there were any – there were many wrongs to be learned. The worst is the incalculable damage caused to the education of Muslim pupils in Birmingham and to community cohesion by the Government’s sledgehammer and knee-jerk reaction to what has proved to be little more than a myth of uncorroborated smears against successful deprived inner city schools.
As any teacher will tell you, the schools system in Britain is not just disjointed but unfortunately has always been little more than a political football exploited by ministers for other purposes. There is no uniformity within education in a maze of different schooling and a broken governance that needs a complete overhaul. A whole tier of local accountability has been eradicated with moves towards academies and free schools and greater centralisation in the hands of the Secretary of Education. The biggest losers are often parents and their children.
After the removal of Michael Gove, it has been left to his replacement Nicky Morgan to pick up the pieces. Any complete reform is beyond her remit, especially with an election looming in a little over six months. But in trying at least to repair some of the fall-out, it is pleasing from her interview with The Muslim News that she appears to have adopted a new tone.
A central issue remains with the Government’s misplaced obsession to root out extremism with no section of society unscathed and at whatever the cost. The first premises in teaching children must be some honesty about what lay behind the Government’s assault on Birmingham schools. Otherwise what hope can there be if we want them to become upstanding citizens.