No radicalisation or violent extremism in schools, says Education Secretary

31st Oct 2014
No radicalisation or violent extremism in schools, says Education Secretary

Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan tells Editor of The Muslim News Ahmed J Versi there was no evidence of radicalisation or extremism in Birmingham schools

Hamed Chapman

Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, has watered down the findings of former national head of counter terrorism’s investigation into extremism at Birmingham schools as a “spectrum of behaviours.”

For the first time Morgan clarified that there was “no evidence of radicalisation or terrorism or violent extremism” despite five schools with mainly Muslim pupils in the city were placed in special measures following media and politicians campaign against these schools.

In an exclusive interview with The Muslim News Editor, Ahmed J Versi, she said she was not aware there would be other investigations on the scale of Birmingham and acceded that she would also consider including Islamophobia as part Key Stages 2, 3 & 4 Personal, Social, Health & Citizenship Education.

The controversial investigation into what was dubbed a Trojan Horse conspiracy began with claims led by former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, of on an organised takeover of state schools by “jihadists” before the debate moved onto “extremists” then directed against “conservative” Muslims and a now focus is on a need to promote fundamental British values.

“What Peter Clark’s report had found was that there was no evidence of radicalisation or terrorism or violent extremism in the schools in Birmingham, but there were examples, I think he called it a ‘concerted attempt’, by a small number of people, to follow a particular ideology, or an extremist ideology”, Morgan said.

The “spectrum of behaviours” by the schools were, according to Morgan, “things like anti-Western assemblies or the segregation of girls and boys for no educational reasons.” Also there were “discussions and examples of things like homophobia, which we do not accept in this country”, she added.

The teaching of creationism was a further concern. Yet, if both creationism and homophobia are taught in Muslim schools or schools with Muslim majority pupils, the schools are regarded by the Government as “extremists”. However, when they are taught in Christian and Jewish schools the label of extremism is not used. Morgan replied that other schools do not have “anti-Western assemblies and anti-Christian chanting”.

Morgan said the Government will not fund early years [children upto five years old] education schools where “creationism is taught as a fact”. However, the Education Secretary added that this shouldn’t “stop the talking about religious stories or Biblical stories of anything like that.” Rather it was when it was “taught as a scientific fact” that the public funding will be stopped.

“The point is that if you’re actually teaching only that, and you’re again closing young minds to other possibilities, particularly at a young age”, she insisted. “There are a majority of nurseries, a majority of schools, a majority of parents who absolutely want young minds to be opened and not to be closed and that’s what we are seeking to support in the promotion of fundamental British values which I think are shared by people up and down the country regardless of their religion, faith or ethnic background.”

When challenged about the sensationalist way Trojan Horse issue was handled by ministers and her predecessor, Morgan said she could not comment on actions of other before she took over the education portfolio. But she agreed that ministers and anyone involved in the community as leaders have to be “very conscious of the language we use and make sure it is appropriate, proportionate and absolutely not seen to be criticizing one particular community.”

Birmingham schools “weren’t targeted” because they were overwhelmingly Muslim, she insisted. “It was a question of following where the letter, where the intelligence, where the conversations, where the head teachers have reported that they have had issues. So it was acting on information.”

On the discredited basis upon which the knee-jerk investigations were launched, she still remained defensive of her colleague, Gove. “I think anybody would expect that if we received any kind of a letter about what is being taught in schools which could relate to some of the views and accusations that we saw in Birmingham, but it could also relate to child abuse, it could relate to children being put at risk through anything. I think we absolutely have to take anything like that seriously and check it out and that’s what happened.”

The promotion of what the Government is calling fundamental British values was also unclear especially when Ofsted reported issues about some Muslim teachers seemingly being very conservative. Democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of others’ faiths and beliefs are already part of the curriculum and the Education Secretary agreed that they were being “taught well in many citizenship classes up and down the country and also those values are running right the way through.”

But the new focus was because they were “not taught well everywhere.” As Secretary of Education her job was “to make sure that we have more good and outstanding schools in this country than we had in 2010 and when I go round and I see some excellent examples of teaching and my job is to make sure that all children have access to that good or outstanding education.”

She disagreed that when inspectors from Ofsted go to schools, especially to younger children, and challenge Muslims about their beliefs and citizenship it seems to be challenging their British loyalties in a very negative way. “I can see how it’s obviously difficult for young children but I also think that it’s very important that children are asked for their views on education and the lessons they are receiving.” It was not just Muslim children but Christian and Jewish who were being questioned, she also insisted.

One of the consequences of the purges has led to Al Hijra School, a 100 per cent Muslim pupil school, being taken over by a new board of governors [Interim Executive Board] and head teacher, none of them Muslim. Wasn’t the Government able to find even one Muslim to be on the board or head teacher from tens of thousands of Muslims in Birmingham? Morgan agreed to look into the recruitment. “Perhaps I can use your interview and perhaps, through your pages, to say to Muslim parents and others in the communities that I very much want them to come forward to be governors of schools, whether they are Muslim majority schools or non-Muslim majority schools, whether in Birmingham or right across the country.”

In seeking to reassure the Muslim community, who have previously been encouraged to become governors, she said that Birmingham was “an exception”. She was keen to stress that “we are not aware of anything else like Birmingham, in terms of the scale across the country.” It was “very important” that Muslim parents come forward. “Actually they have a huge amount to contribute.”

After initially suggesting that heads and teachers know best what should be taught in lessons appropriate for the local communities. When it was proposed that pupils should be taught about Islamophobia as part of citizenship lessons, the Education Secretary relented and agreed that the topic should be included in guidelines. “It’s a very good point and we also work with associations like the PHSE (Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education Professionals) association who will advise schools on additional things to be taught in the curriculum.”

Before he resigned, Gove said that Madrasahs would be the next target. Morgan confirmed that the Government was looking into issuing guidelines for what the Prime Minister’s Extremism Taskforce, created after murder of Lee Righby, called supplementary schools. “There has been some evidence, not just of extremist views, but also of corporal punishment, which again, we think is unacceptable and so we are looking at the best way”, though she was sure that the “vast majority” are there to open young minds.

“Supplementary schools cover a huge number of different schools and we’re very conscious of how the language we use is extremely important.” With regard to her own approach being different to her predecessor, Morgan said that she represented the Midlands constituency of Loughborough, which has a significant Muslim, Bengali population.

“I work with them extremely well, some of them are great friends, they cook great curry and I bring all of those experiences in terms of how we deal with those issues.” No blind eye should be turned to problems, “but I am very conscious of the language that we use and of the importance of good community relations.”

6 Responses to “No radicalisation or violent extremism in schools, says Education Secretary”

Iftikhar AhmadNovember 1, 2014

Actually, the evidence to support this “Trojan Horse” thing is sketchy at best. From the perspective of most people who have “concerns” about it, it is a rumour – if there is any evidence beyond the meme they saw on Facebook, they haven’t seen any of it. All the press reporting of Trojan Horse has been reporting of “concerns” – to my knowledge, the press have made no effort to verify whether those “concerns” are valid before telling everyone how widespread they are and tacitly implying that anyone who doesn’t share them probably shouldn’t be trusted with YOUR children. Yet people queue up for these schools. The call to end faith schools is short sighted. These schools produce above average results on the whole and are important for the economy of this country.

This Trojan Horse is a stir up to put up an attitude amongst the British community upon Muslims AGAIN, this hysteria has all been blown up because they do not want non-Muslim youngsters falling to the idea of Islam. Jewish schools have a more strict approach to religion than the majority of Islamic schools or schools that are heavily influenced by Muslim governors, yet they are not gonna be investigated because any hysteria brought up would be labelled anti-Semitism to become increasingly anti-establishment and belligerent. And they would have every reason to if this garbage continues. Park view is not multi cultural. It is mono cultural. It is to all purposes an Islamic school posing as a British secular state school. This “Trojan horse” thing worries me…I do not think that Greek classical mythology necessarily falls within the frame of reference of Muslims.. This affair was started by a hoax letter , driven by Islamophobia , which achieved its end , courtesy of a Government paranoid about ‘ extremism ‘ without any definition of what it means , and a ‘ anti-terrorism industry ‘ trying to justify itself and its funding to the Home Office . Meanwhile Ofsted have become a political tool , a new thought police , with little relevance to the standards of education , and an agenda driven by paranoia in a society which constantly changes its moral goalposts , itself in moral flux and confusion . And let not forget where did this all started, with Al Qaeda, which was created and nurtured and armed by the West. Now everyone is complaining where do all these extremism come from. If you are serious about fighting Muslim extremism start by going to the source, in allied countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and so on. But that would never happen because you also want your cheap oil. Hypocrite.

A Birmingham school at the centre of the Trojan Horse investigation spent £50,000 on a taxpayer-funded trip to Saudi Arabia for students and staff. The school had described the Saudi Arabia tours as ‘‘modern foreign languages trips’’ with the ‘‘double benefit’’ of allowing students to perform Umrah, a religious pilgrimage.

Last May 40 students and eight staff travelled to Mecca and Medina. The ten-day visit involved stays at luxury five-star hotels.

The 2013 trip to Saudi Arabia had initially won praise from Ofsted in a report last year. Talking about pupil feedback, the report stated: “For pupils who spoke to the inspectors, last year’s trip had clearly been a life-changing experience.’’

But in the new damning Ofsted report, released on Monday, inspectors raised concerns. “Governors have used the academy’s budget to subsidise a trip to Saudi Arabia for only Muslim staff and pupils,’’ it said.


MarkNovember 1, 2014

I can’t believe the rambling, repetetive comment above. It’s full of demands and asks the “native British” to “tolerate” intolerances. And the writer wonders why people get upset.
On the subject in hand, orthodox conservatism in a state school IS extreme. Teaching values that are alien to society in general IS extreme. From my point of view, any hatred is for the British society, coming from the direction of orthodox conservatives who have the upper hand in Muslim communities. You make the mistake of lumping all “Muslims” into one blocl. This is what the EDL does. You forget there were Muslim parents who didn’t want conservatism in those schools for their own children. Do you wish to force that on those who don’t want it, and for all Muslims to dance to one tune? Perhaps “dance” and “tune” is a bad analogy. Maybe it’s time for Muslims schools to declare “Salafism” or “Sufism” as a way of pointing out what limitations the education there provides. It is obvious to me that if those in charge in the “Muslim community” are pushing Salafism or Wahabism, this really ought to be split out from just “Muslim education.”
You also seem to forget that the Christian ACE curriculum has been a concern and was focussed on by Newsnight.
You also ask if Nicky Morgan will include “Islamophobia” in teaching methods. First you have to define that word, as it can be used far too simply. If I said, “I’ve read the Quran and don’t fancy Islam as a religion,” that would be seen as “Islamophobic by some. This is getting too close to Orwell’s 1984.
Overall, Birmingham needed to be investigated whether the original letter was a “fake plot letter” or a “whistle-blowing letter.” The fact people desperately tried to defend the educational limitations in those schoold ranckled, and still does. If it’s happening anywhere else, it needs to be stopped, and fast.


Iftikhar AhmadNovember 1, 2014

There are hundreds of state primary and secondary schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out to become Muslim Academies. This mean the Muslim children will get a decent education. Muslim schools turned out balanced citizens, more tolerant of others and less likely to succumb to criminality or extremism. Muslim schools give young people confidence in who they are and an understanding of Islam’s teaching of tolerance and respect which prepares them for a positive and fulfilling role in society. Muslim schools are attractive to Muslim parents because they have better discipline and teaching Islamic values. Children like discipline, structure and boundaries. Bilingual Muslim children need Bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods, who understand their needs and demands.

Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling. These are the reasons why majority of Muslim parents would like to send their children to Muslim schools with Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. Only less than 5% attend Muslim schools and more than 95% keep on attending state and church schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

None of the British Muslims convicted following the riots in Bradford and Oldham in 2001 or any of those linked to the London bombings had been to Islamic schools. An American Think Tank studied the educational back ground of 300 Jihadists; none of them were educated in Pakistani Madrasas. They were all Western educated by non-Muslim teachers. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. A Cambridge University study found that single-sex classes could make a big difference for boys. They perform better in single-sex classes. The research is promising because male students in the study saw noticeable gains in the grades. The study confirms the Islamic notion that academic achievement is better in single-sex classes.

None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context. It is not wrong to teach children that Jews are committing the same cruelty in Palestine what German did to them before or during Second World War. It is not wrong to teach children that anti-social behaviour, drinking, drugs, homosexuality, sex before marriage, teenage pregnancies and abortions are western values and Islam is against all such sins. This does not mean that Muslim schools teach children to hate westerners, Jews and homosexuals.

The demand for Muslim schools comes from parents who want their children a safe environment with an Islamic ethos. Parents see Muslim schools where children can develop their Islamic Identity where they won’t feel stigmatised for being Muslims and they can feel confident about their faith. Muslim schools are working to try to create a bridge between communities. There is a belief among ethnic minority parents that the British schooling does not adequately address their cultural needs. Failing to meet this need could result in feeling resentment among a group who already feel excluded. Setting up Muslim school is a defensive response. State schools with monolingual teachers are not capable to teach English to bilingual Muslim children. Bilingual teachers are needed to teach English to such children along with their mother tongue. According to a number of studies, a child will not learn a second language if his first language is ignored.

The West has never been at ease with Islam since the Crusades. It is unfortunate that huge oil supplies lie under the Arabian Deserts. It is the West that stirred the trouble that led to 9/11. That attack was a desperate act of by men prepared to lose their life. We need to get to grips on who is the terrorist? On 24 November 1963, Lyndon Johnson said, “the battle against communism… must be joined… with strength and determination. Some three million lives were lost in the consequential battles. The US had to pull out due to Public Opinion. Communism lived on. So who was the terrorist?

The British establishment is wrong in thinking that Imams are to blame for extremism. Imams are not solution to the problem for extremism. Extremism is nothing to do with Imams. Extremism is not created from abroad, it is coming from within. Britain fails to help Muslim communities feel part of British society. Race trouble is being predicted by the Daily Express, because of an ethnic boom in UK major cities. Muslim communities need imams for the solutions of their needs and demands in their own native languages. Muslim parents would like to see their children well versed in Standard English and to go for higher studies and research to serve humanity. The fact is that majority of Muslim children leave schools with low grades because monolingual teachers are not capable to teach Standard English to bilingual Muslim children. A Muslim is a citizen of this tiny global village. He/she does not want to become notoriously monolingual Brit.

Terrorism and sexual grooming is nothing to do with Masajid, Imams and Muslim schools. Those Muslim youths who have been involved in terrorism and sexual grooming are the product of western education system which makes a man stupid, selfish and corrupt. They find themselves cut off from their cultural heritage, literature and poetry. They suffer from identity crises and I blame British schooling.

The shocking level of targeting of the Muslim community of Birmingham is indicative of the normalisation of the dehumanisation of the Muslims of Britain. Under the pretext of “extremism”, criminal undemocratic and unethical abuse of public institutions and the Muslims of the UK can occur without much accountability. This pervasive attitude, especially amongst officials like Michael Gove needs to change. Our schools are truly trying to develop our children to do well at schools so later in life they are able to stand on their own two feet, but if we stop our schools from doing this than our country will have up rise of unemployment, benefit issues, crime levels high, I think its time for you apologize and allow practitioners to do their job right.


MarkNovember 2, 2014

“Indiscipline, incivility, binge drinking, drug addiction, gun and knife crimes, teenage pregnancies and abortion are part and parcel of British schooling.”

Yes, they are all part of the curriculum, particularly in the 6th year, and you can pass exams in them. (that was me being sarcastic, unless you didn’t notice).

One of my main points was that puritanical educational limits should not be forced upon those who don’t want it, and that includes Muslims who don’t want it. It seems you think all Muslims should be exactly the same. I shudder to think what you feel should happen to those who don’t follow your particular way of thinking.


JaneyNovember 8, 2014

Typical of muslims to twist people’s words. She wasn’t whitewashing the reports as you hoped.

Islamophobia doesn’t exist, it’s an invented term for muslims to introduce blasphemy into western culture.

See Channel 4 Dispatches, ‘tales of hatred and violence’. That’s what muslims are doing too. After school hours. Apparently parents pay for it, to get their kids beaten and ingurgitate nasty racist sectarian drivel. But you want islamophobia introduced into school curriculums ! Talk about double standards. Disgusting.


Iftikhar AhmadNovember 11, 2014

Islamophobia and Arabophobia has been part of western culture since the Crusades, with Saddam and Osama only the latest in a long line of Arab bogeymen. The real reason for the current spate of Islamophobia is the fact that Islam has been the fastest growing religion in the world and as such poses a threat to the West. This is happening inspite of widespread misconceptions and negative media portrayed of Islam.

Prejudice against Islam in the West developed due to historic rivalry of Christianity against Islam. The defeat of Christians by the Muslims in Crusades was a big shock for the Christian world. These deep wounds are still so fresh in the Christian world today that the parents, media, politicians and teachers feel it a duty to nurture the feelings of prejudice against Islam in the hearts and minds of their young generations. According to Runnymede Trust, Britain has become “an institutionally Islamophobic” society in which Muslims are demonised. Hostility towards Muslims is still a major problem and is not being taken seriously enough by race relations bodies. According to Dr. Richard Stone, there is now renewed talk of a clash of civilizations, a new global cold war, and mounting concern that the already fragile foothold gained by Muslim communities in Britain is threatened by ignorance and intolerance. According to John Gieve of the Home office, Islamic extremism might be a “symptom of disaffection”. The same disaffection previously surfaced during the riots that shook Oldham and Bradford in 2001.

Jews and Christian scholars, the so called Western Orientals have always tried to mispresent Islam in their writings. They have always tried to spread baseless lies against Islam in a very authentic and scholarly style, hiding their deep rooted hatred against Islam. They have called all efforts to restore pure Islam in Muslim countries as “fundamentalist movements” against modern-day material progress and economic development. Lacy O’Leary in the book “Islam at the cross road”: “history makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated.” Even Gandhi refuted the false propaganda, otherwise, one could not find even a single Hindu or non-Muslim in the Indian sub-continent and on top of that Sikhism could not dare to emerge as a religion. India would be the largest Muslim country in the world. In the 20th century new images emerged, the fanatical terrorist, the stone-thrower and the suicide bomber. According to Lord Carey, there was a deep-rooted Islamophobia in Britain. There is a worrying ignorance of Muslim people and suspicion of their presence in the United Kingdom. It is assumed by many that Muslims wish to take over ‘our country and if we allow them to enter Britain in significant numbers they will in time make the country Islamic’.

Mr. Denis MacShane, the Minister for Europe urged British Muslims to adopt the “British norms” and not the way of the “terrorists”, in other words “Islamic way”. He provoked Muslims to choose between the “British way” and the way of terrorism.” Monica Ali’s, who was mis-educated and de-educated by the British education system, portrays Bangladeshi Muslims in Brick Lane as backward, uneducated and unsophisticated. This is the main reason why her book was selected for Guardian First Book Award. The content of the book is a despicable insult to Bengali Muslims at home and abroad. The book can be compared to Salman Rushdie’s Stanic Verses. The combined forces of racial discrimination and Islamophobia have been awesome in the marginalisation and alienation of the Muslim community. Muslims made to feel like an enemy within by Islamophobic attitudes. Hardening prejudice against Islam is creating a dis-affected underclass of young Muslims “time-bombs” likely to explode into violence, according to a recent report. Life for Britain 1.6 million Muslims has never been easy. For decades they have struggled in the face of discrimination in all walks of life. West is not based on Judio-Christian civilisation. This term should be abandoned to be replaced by Judio-Christian-Islamic civilisation. The new language should be used in all venues starting with media, academic statements by politicians, church leaders and Imams of Masajid. These are the words that define how we are related to each other’s.

Through out the modern history, Muslims have contributed for the Renaissance of Western culture and society. Islamic values are not only compatible with the western values they are almost identical. Islamic ideas helped shape the European West that produced the values cherished by the constitution’s framers. Western culture is infact based on Muslim culture. The aim of education is to give the highest possible standard in order to advance spiritually, emotionally, technologically and economically. The early Muslim knew this and they were instrumental in giving the west much of the scientific knowledge that has once helped it to thrive.

Bernard Shaw once said that the future religion of the West would be Islam and only Islam. Islamophobia is guiding Westerners towards that end. They study with open mind the Holy Quran and Islamic literature and poetry. Islam is a force fighting Imperialism. Read the greatest book of revolution: The Holy Quran. Meet the greatest revolutionary of all times: Muhammad (peace be upon him). In America a great number of universities, colleges and schools are offering Islamic Studies courses. There is a possibility that in the near future half of native population would revert to Islam. In fact Islamophobia is a blessing in disguise.


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