Theresa May raises school extremism questions

Jun 4, 2014 by

Concerns about the Department for Education’s handling of allegations of extremism in Birmingham schools have been raised by Theresa May.

The Home Secretary has asked Michael Gove about claims his department was aware of allegations in 2010 and Birmingham Council two years earlier.

But Education Secretary Mr Gove believes the Home Office is not doing enough on extremism, a report said.

Mr Gove and Mrs May have pledged that they are working together on the issue.

‘Someone else’s problem’

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The allegations relating to schools in Birmingham raise serious questions about the quality of school governance and oversight arrangements.”

Theresa May Home Secretary

In a letter, Mrs May said: “The allegations relating to schools in Birmingham raise serious questions about the quality of school governance and oversight arrangements.”

She added: “Is it true that Birmingham City Council was warned about these allegations in 2008? Is it true that the Department for Education was warned in 2010? If so, why did nobody act?”

Mr Gove believes there has been a plot by extremist Muslims to take over schools in Birmingham, according to The Times.

He thinks there is reluctance to tackle the issue in government departments, especially Home Office.

But a Home Office source told the BBC “he was trying to make it someone else’s problem”.

Those around Mr Gove pointed out it was his view that for over a generation there had been a reluctance in Whitehall to confront extremism unless it developed into terrorism – and his criticism did not relate specifically to the current home secretary.

But a Home Office source was blunt, telling the BBC: “The Department for Education is responsible for schools, the Home Office is not.”

“They have got a problem and they are trying to make it someone else’s problem,” the source added.

Michael Gove Michael Gove “was trying to make it someone else’s problem”, a Home Office source told The Times.

A source close to Mr Gove said the education secretary thought “Theresa May was an excellent home secretary”.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said public rows within the coalition government happen every day.

But this row is different because two Conservative cabinet ministers are at the centre of it, he said.

But the pair insisted they are united.

In a statement, they said: “The Department for Education and the Home Office take the problems in Birmingham schools and all issues relating to extremism very seriously.

“Michael Gove and Theresa May are working together to ensure we get to the bottom of what has happened in Birmingham and take the necessary steps to fix it.”

Report findings

Three of the Birmingham schools inspected in the wake of the so-called Trojan Horse allegations have published the findings of their Ofsted reports.

They are rated “outstanding” or “good”, although one urges governors to prepare students for “multicultural Britain”.

The inspection of 21 schools in Birmingham was a response to claims of a takeover strategy by a hardline Muslim group.

Although there have been plans for all the inspection findings to be published together, this has been pre-empted by repeated reports that five or more of the schools have been found inadequate.

Individual schools, with positive outcomes, have also begun to publish their own report findings.

These include Ninestiles School – an academy in Acocks Green – Small Heath School, and Washwood Heath Academy.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The allegations made in relation to some schools in Birmingham are very serious and we are investigating all evidence put to us in conjunction with Ofsted, Birmingham City Council and the police.

“It is absolutely vital these investigations are carried out impartially, without pre-judgment. Ofsted has inspected a number of schools in the light of recent allegations and will report to the secretary of state shortly.

“Retired senior police officer Peter Clarke has been asked by the secretary of state to make a full inquiry into Birmingham schools and will report back this summer.”

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via BBC News – Theresa May raises school extremism questions.

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