> The Birmingham school at the centre of an alleged campaign of “Islamisation” by Muslim radicals is to be placed in “special measures” by the Government’s education watchdog in a move that could see its head teacher and governors removed.
> In extensive interviews with The Sunday Telegraph, more than a dozen sources disclosed how children at one supposedly non-religious primary school, Oldknow, were led in anti-Christian chanting by one of their teachers at assembly.
> The school also conducts weekly Friday prayers, has organised at least three school trips to Mecca subsidised from public funds, and requires all pupils to learn Arabic — almost unheard of at a primary school. It also runs its own madrassah, or religious school. Oldknow’s highly successful non-Muslim head teacher has been driven from her post for resisting this “Islamising agenda”, this newspaper has learnt.
> The head of another successful primary school, Springfield, received death threats, had his car tyres slashed and is under “non-stop attack” by radical governors, according to parents, other governors and staff at the school. Several sources said their schools had repeatedly appealed to Birmingham city council and the education inspectorate Ofsted for help, but were ignored.
A similar thing happened at a local school here over ten years ago, luckily the LEA supported the Head and disbanded the governing body.
Another Head in Woking was less lucky, around the same time, she was sacked but after a long legal battle got £400,000 compo off the council, the Judge awarding the compo said "They sought to monopolise the governors’ body to impose their own agenda... which was to convert New Monument to an Islamic faith school."
If you've been following the story, the first case reported in Birmingham was 20 years ago.
But the pressure for more muslims schools goes way back, the first government report that looked into whether the state should be providing them was the Swann Report in 1985.
But that concluded that:
we do not believe that a situation in which groups of children are taught exclusively by teachers of the same ethnic group is desirable from the point of view of the children, the minority community or society as a whole
So a mechanism has never existed whereby muslims could establish state funded Islamic faith schools and the private ones are few and under funded.
Where activists have tried to turn schools into Islamic schools has come through a Localism agenda, which was intended to empower parents but has clearly been exploited by those with an agenda to takeover the schools.
Another attempt to construct a mechanism for converting schools came from the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism (mentioned on the BMC religion thread) jointly with the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, (which Jeremy Henzell Thomas also sat on the board of) which suggested that
"Given sufficient consensus, parents should be given the opportunity to determine a new Ethos Statement for an existing maintained school where there is a majority of pupils of another cultural/religious group."
So not full on Faith schools but a mechanism for taking state schools and making them Islam Ethos Schools (slightly different legal standing to faith schools). Similarly rejected by the government at the time.
The Academy and Free School legislation has enabled them to a certain extent but require that a local area has a need for a school, ie a lack of school places.
But then the Free School initiative was always going to enable Christian groups first.
In reply to stroppygob: For me it's not just the apparent islamification that's worrying - it's the apparent nepotism and abuse of public funds to subsidise trips to mecca.
totally disgusting if all true, which I have very little to doubt it isn't.
I agree that all schools should be secular and should promote equal weighting to the teaching about religions through non-religious/secular teachers.
> That doesn't sound quite right, seeing as we have so many state funded Christian schools, where you have to, by law, do Christian supportive chanting every morning?
I don't think you understand what state funded Islamic school means here, otherwise you wouldn't compare it to christian schools.
All the various mechanisms that have previously been put in place require(d)some financial investment from the controlling body, although this includes legacy finance in terms of property. So funding wasn't available for new builds.
Existing state schools couldn't convert to faith schools, this is why various groups, such as FAIR were looking to persuade the government to put in place such a mechanism.
Free Schools have precisely changed this to enable groups without financial support to build their own empires.
In reply to stroppygob: The solution is simple - follow the French model. Ban all faith schools; convert the current ones to secular schools. Ban all religion at schools, except possibly the study of it in RE - but really how important is RE at school level? Surely if anyone want to study it properly, you can do it at University (and I would be surprised if History A level or equivalent wasn't a sufficient qualification).
Edit - in response to the thread title, I can't see any problem with compulsory Arabic - probably as useful as compulsory French etc...
Nothing wrong with Arabic, same as with French, German or any other language.
While non-religious myself I'm not against RE, as long as it's taught in a secular, non-preaching style.
The Islamification of schools is disgusting, but no worse than trying to Christianise schools. I recently spent several days in a normal (non- religious) state-funded secondary school. They had a new head teacher who was very Christian and was pretty intent on converting as many as he could (from what the teachers were saying). I sat in on an assembly taken by two women from a local church, who had just been appointed as "pastoral leaders". They went on about "if you have any problems come and talk to us", "we won't judge you" etc (no mention of God); but it was clear they were saying "talk to us, and we'll tell you all about the Christian God". I thought it was a horribly underhand method of converting unsuspecting kids. I won't repeat what the (science) teachers thought.
It's happening with all religions, and it could be dangerous to focus only on Islam!!
Wish I'd learned Arabic at school -- it would have made my 10 years working in the Gulf a lot easier - particularly with customers. However if I'd learned Hindi and Urdu as well, I'd have been able to figure out exactly how some of the staff, I was nominally in charge of, always found a way to hide anything they didn't want me to know.
From September it's going to be compulsory for schools to teach a modern foreign language at key stage 2 (7-11 years old).
Originally it was 1 from 7 but complaints from the MFL teachers (and people complaining that Arabic wasn't on the list) means schools can choose any language, from any era, Sumerian anyone?
Arabic isn't functionally the same because it is religiously normative - it's taught so that people will be able to read the Quran in the original text. Only a small number of muslims can do this already and even then the language has changed and the original wasn't clear.
In Pakistan it's proposed to make Arabic compulsory in schools because the more people know about the Quran, they reckon, it's less likely they'll want to blow people up. Good luck with that.
> Not sure that the catchment area is that diverse.
It's a bit racist to assume all muslims want the same, the point about the Birmingham scandal has been that they've had to manipulate the local parents and gerrymander the votes for the governors in order to achieve what they want.
One of the Head Teachers ousted (20 years ago) was a muslim who didn't agree with their agenda.
I know not all muslims are the same thanks. The vast majority are peaceful people. However I do think that not celebrating Christmas (the subject of the chanting) is unlikely to be an issue to muslims in the way it would to christians. Hence my point about the catchment area.
To those saying about funded church of England schools for Christianity... We do live in a Christian country, in which Christianity ,in one form or another, is the most popular religion in this country.
> in which Christianity ,in one form or another, is the most popular religion in this country.
The most popular looser in the corner is still a looser in the corner. It seems clear to everyone except the government that organised religion is in a major decline. The shame to me is that in pandering to christianity the government are opening the door to other religions to metastasise and invade our systems as well.
Faith schools are a good way of sifting through the chaff of waster parents and problem kids.
We go to church purely because the intake of the best primary near us takes 85% of the year from the affiliated church. We chat to the parents in the queue afterwards (queueing to sign the register) and they are pretty much all the same, just putting the hours in to get their children into the best school.
This whittles out the rank atheists/principle holders such as yourself and the ones who are too hungover, couldn't be fooked to do it.
I quite like this method of selection. It's transparent and effective
(slightly tongue in cheek but plenty of truth as well)
I meant that Christianity has been the single religion of this country for quite a while. Maybe that's my 'old fashioned-ness', although I'm not too up on religious history in this country or the current popularity of religions but I do believe that religious schools are great, whatever the religion.
But I don't understand condemning Christian schools in this country. I went to one for a short time and I can't remember any discrimination to other religions, or forcing a religion upon you. To be honest the school had a very good reputation.
Also, when was the last time anyone on here went to a Church of England service? I went yesterday and I can tell you it was pretty light hearted, had a couple of moral messages that would fit any walk of life, a few hymns and that was about it. You could read the internet on your phone throughout the whole service and nobody would care.
Then you have the school, which teaches the curriculum (well by all accounts) doesn't bang on about religion...and (this is the best bit I think) because it is such a faith lite religion, my children will hopefully be well educated enough to realise it's probably bunkem and take it or leave it. No pressure, no stress.No harm and a decent filtering system as mentioned above.
Anyone can get into the school, you just have to put the yards in on a sunday morning. Whats so hard about that? It's your children we are talking about here...you know the ones, the ones that have ruined your nice holidays/cars/social life ;-)
> But I don't understand condemning Christian schools in this country.
See Bjartur's post. Such schools are socially selective. Why should some groups get to have socially selective schools whereas other groups do not (and get schools that have to take all the rejects that the socially-selective schools do not want)?
> I can't remember any discrimination to other religions ...
That is mostly in the admissions criteria, which certain do discriminate over religion. Indeed, "faith" schools have a special exemption from the 2010 Equality Act allowing them to do so, the only state bodies that have such an exemption.
> ... or forcing a religion upon you.
Was there any expectation of participation in worshipping the Christian god in assembly each morning?
> To be honest the school had a very good reputation.
That's easy if you're allowed to be socially selective.
> Anyone can get into the school, you just have to put the yards in on a sunday morning. Whats so hard about that?
Maybe you want to go climbing on the weekends? This is a taxpayer-funded school we're talking about; why should it be allowed to discriminate in favour of those who "put the yards in on a sunday morning" by going to church, rather than going climbing?
It's a selection process dressed up as a faith school. Get over it. If I wanted to go climbing all the time I wouldn't have had kids, If you can't be bothered to "put the yards in"...there is a school down the road you can send your kids to. No bother at all. Something for everyone
But for this one, just so happens you have to give up 26 sunday mornings a year. and the byproduct of that is a bunch of kids with parents who care enough to make a few sacrifices. You could always not bother and hope to be one of the 15% that they have to take from the local area....but unless you literally do live a stones throw away, forget about it.
> It's a selection process dressed up as a faith school. Get over it.
Sorry, I'm not going to "get over it". I consider that that sort of discrimination in a taxpayer-funded school (favouring those who "give up 26 sunday mornings a year" by going to church) to be immoral, and I hope that one day it will be illegal, as it already is in many countries (all it will take is a repeal of the exemption in the 2010 Equality Act).
> But for this one, just so happens you have to give up 26 sunday mornings a year. and the byproduct of that is a bunch of kids with parents who care enough to make a few sacrifices.
Its a bugger for anyone who has to work weekends though. Still guess they are less likely to be professional class so best to keep them away.
Out of curiosity what percentage of the people attending are turning up to tick the box?
You're making the mistake of thinking all these parents are religious, none of them are. Everyone knows that right up to the vicar. It's the elephant in room. But what can he do? Nothing except tell us a sermon, hold a communion and sign a letter saying we turned up every other week.
Its a filtering service, nothing more. We don't have to wear a cross, knock on doors, be baptised, confirmed, or even bother to sing the hymns (vicar has to mic himself up so at least someone can be heard over the organ ;-)
and here is a question which I don't know the answer to
Is the school the best in the local area because the teaching and facilities are the best, or is it the intake of children with supportive parents?
> (In reply to Coel Hellier)
> Its a filtering service, nothing more. We don't have to wear a cross, knock on doors, be baptised, confirmed, or even bother to sing the hymns (vicar has to mic himself up so at least someone can be heard over the organ ;-)
No, you just have to be fundamentally dishonest. Which, to be fair, seems to be a good qualification for attending a faith school.
Exactly, so whilst you can fantasize about some equal system countrywide, the rest of us will just concentrate on our own kids, and the few schools we have nearby which are our only choice.
Let me know when you manage to make all schools the same, make all kids behave alike, and all parents supportive. Until then I will seek out any advantage I can in this unfair world and give MY kids the best chance I think I can.
Funnily enough, i used to think like you before I had my own children. Funny how your opinions change when it really matters and you realise your little crusade will probably only harm your children for your own moral satisfaction
> Funnily enough, i used to think like you before I had my own children. Funny how your opinions change when it really matters and you realise your little crusade will probably only harm your children for your own moral satisfaction
Yeah, ethics who needs them.
Oh and could you point out where anyone is saying that the schools should all be equal?
There are arguments to be made for and against selection but if you are going to go that route then it really should be selecting on something a bit more useful than simply who turns up to a church to prop up their piss poor attendance figures.
Nowhere does it say you have to believe? You just have to turn up. What's dishonest about that?, you turn up, endure, go home. it's a test.
Once you realise it for what it is, you can relax and just think of the money your saving on private ;-)
I could make a stand, refuse to go, send my children to the worse school down the road. It won't be me breaking trail on that trend thx very much....you lot can do it if your so passionate about the cause...or maybe none of you have kids I wonder? ;-)
> I could make a stand, refuse to go, send my children to the worse school down the road. It won't be me breaking trail on that trend thx very much....you lot can do it if your so passionate about the cause...or maybe none of you have kids I wonder? ;-)
I sympathise, and I do have kids. You do what you have to do and I'm not blaming you, but doesn't a system that not only tolerates but encourages such hypocrisy depress you? Surely we shouldn't be teaching our kids that the way to get on is to say one thing and believe another?
I guess we're fortunate that this wasn't an option available to us; we had to bite the bullet and pay the fees!
> , as someone else pointed, it belongs in the middle ages
I decided that was to much of a rant and deleted it, but I do struggle to believe that such insanity persists in a "democracy". It is inexcusable corruption. At fault or complicity are the central government, the schools, the LEAs, the churches and the parents "attending" the churches. Nobody has any balls to tackle fundamental flaws in the architecture and implementation of education in this country, and the farcical situation around faith schools is one of the symptoms of this disease.
The degree of corruption, moral hypocrisy and lack of guts baked into the system will then contribute to far wider mindset issues and pandering to minority special interest groups that lead to a country that views itself as a progressive democracy living far to far down the TI corruption metric. http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/results/
" but doesn't a system that not only tolerates but encourages such hypocrisy depress you?"
Well it did, I remember arguing with my sister about it quite a few years ago (same stance as Coel and Dissonance) until I had kids, then I couldn't believe what an advantage I had, if I could just be bothered to go to church.
And in reply to Winhill....I totally agree, plenty of great schools around that are just catchment area. My problem is in fact that very issue. I live in London with a wide disparity of wealth on the same street. Therefore some of the schools are a real mixed bag. Therefore I will take any advantage I can get on this issue.
Incidentally, I don't think you guys need worry too much. I am amazed how few people can be bothered with church for the school. Via wifes NCT group we occasionally go to some childs BD party and I am often suprised at the lack of forethought/care/worry at the parents approach to primary school.
> I dont make the rules, but the system does appear to have an effect.
Yes allows for selection and also boosts the churches attendance significantly. Which they can then use as support for why they should have state support.
However as methods of selection go its a hamfisted approach. If you want selection why not do the job properly and not just on some random metric. If it was how often do the parents turn up at the local football club or trade union meetings I doubt it would go down so well.
> Harsh. Nowhere did he say he liked the system, and he personally isn't gaining an advantage. His kids might, of course.
He did say: "I quite like this method of selection", and gain to one's immediate family is usually classed as a gain to oneself. If a politican acted improperly acted to benefit their own child wouldn't we call that corruption?
> As Dissonance says, it might as well be a footy club or Union for all it matters to the punters who can be bothered to turn up.
And you've no problem with -- to use your example -- admissions to your local taxpayer-funded school being decided by how many tickets to Old Trafford you had bought that season? Do you really not see why this sort of thing is corrupt?
Yes you do have a point, but for me that point fell down once I realised it was open to all, ergo...not a priviledged system. All you needed was a bit of will power and ability to laugh at your own hypocrisy (not being religious)
By supporting a corrupt system. As I said up-thread: "I'm not actually criticising you for doing the best for your kids, I'm criticising you for supporting the system. One could oppose the system while still taking advantage of it."
I think it's clear that you are not a fan of the system. Neither was I. But now I am "in it" and realise how little is needed to "qualify" (i.e time only...nothing more at all!) Then I am quite happy to take advantage of such a simple and none discrimatory filtering system that works simply because people are too lazy to be bothered (or in your case and maybe some others...principled)
I will take it and admire your noble stance from the gates of the best school in the local area ;-)
> ... but for me that point fell down once I realised it was open to all, ergo...not a priviledged system.
Voting Tory is also "open to all" and doesn't cost anything. So presumably you'd have no problem with the government giving people who vote Tory a big advantage in access to taxpayer-funded resources such that: "I couldn't believe what an advantage I had"? Or would you regard that as corrupt?
> I think it's clear that you are not a fan of the system.
> ... take advantage of such a simple and none discrimatory filtering system ...
Can I suggest that you don't know what "non discrimatory" means? This is the very epitome of religious discrimination. Why else did they need a special exemption from the 2010 Equality Act to make this legal?
"I'm not actually criticising you for doing the best for your kids, I'm criticising you for supporting the system. One could oppose the system while still taking advantage of it."
So how exactly is he supposed to do to square that circle? He can send his kids to a sink school condemning them to a second rate education but giving himself a chance to climb more on Sundays OR he can be a hypocrite for an hour a week and get his kids into the best school he can.
As he repeatedly pointed out, no money changes hands, the system is open for anyone to abuse.
But I said much further up that nearly all of us can see through it as bunkem, none of us care about the religious aspect of it.
It's really no different than if the Church said, turn up 26 times a year and we will give you a cheque for £5000 on Christmas eve. How many would turn up then? They would be queuing down the road every week. For some reason, lots of parents don't see the advantage of getting into that good school...go figure? To me that good school is worth way more than £5k
If it makes you feel any better...if they banned it, I would just shrug my shoulders and look for the next advantage i could get for my kids. Probably leveraging my good job that really can discriminate against my neighbours that don't have that advantage
> Would you go to church 26 times a year for the option of getting your kids into the best local school available?
Maybe one day I'll find out. While they're still hypothetical days I think I'd rather use them to help the poorer school deliver, either as a governor or by volunteering my time in some other way (sport, sharing skills, even just fundraising). At least that time is productive rather than spent listening to stories, singing, mumbling and being shaken down for a few coins every other week.
"places based on parents performing bizarre weekly rituals"
That made me laugh...it's like Keyser Soze, the greatest trick is making you all believe we perform bizarre rituals so we can have this good school all to ourselves .<evil cackle> as long as that's what people believe it's like...then we really can gain the advantage
How about a special system of jumping NHS queues for anyone who votes Tory (with stamped receipts at voting stations)? Anyone can play that game, doesn't cost them anything (and voting once every three years is a heck of a lot less effort than 26 Sunday mornings a year) and so by your argument it would be totally fine and not at all corrupt.
For the record, I don't believe in god, attend church or indulge in bizarre rituals. However I'm lucky because we have 2 schools in the area and they are both fairly good (as in better than the national average) so I actually have a real choice.
If I was in Bjartur's shoes and the choice was be a hypocrite or send my kids to a sink school then I'd probably be a hypocrite. I'm not defending the system in any way, but his choice is the lesser of 2 evils. You and Coel seem to forget that the key player in all this is toddling off to school every day.
> If I was in Bjartur's shoes and the choice was be a hypocrite or send my kids to a sink school then I'd probably be a hypocrite. I'm not defending the system in any way,
Fine, but Bjartur is.
It does raise the question of how places should be allocated, if it is not simply based on address. Rather than (fake) religious adherence, wouldn't some voluntary contribution to the desired school be a better measure? Or, more controversially, perhaps voluntary contribution to another "sink" school to try and redress any imbalance!
> Yes you do have a point, but for me that point fell down once I realised it was open to all, ergo...not a priviledged system. All you needed was a bit of will power and ability to laugh at your own hypocrisy (not being religious)
It's not open to all though is it, there are conditions. It's open to Christians of a certain denomination, the ambivalent/agnostic and of course hypocrites.
It excludes those unwilling to renounce other faiths and those of no faith who are unwilling to go against their principals. It excludes those who don't want their children indoctrinated. It even excludes those who work Sundays. It's corrupt, corrupting and divisive. Schools should be secular.
Sorry, that sounds harsher than it's supposed to but I can't think how else to say it. Perhaps you're agnostic, I don't know.
Coel, I know how much stamina you have when you get a bee in your bonnet (especially when religion is involved) so i'm going to respectfully say that you can have your point, enjoy it, and fight the good fight.
it's a very simple decision for me, and no amount of comparing to voting for the tories and getting an advantage is going to change my mind. I will do what I think is best for my children and live with my internal demons
No one on here has changed my mind on what I am doing, no one has offered any alternative.
Incidentally, the local catchment area school that is our closest is improving every year, so much so that they are hoping for outstanding at their nxt ofsted. This is excellent news for us and the local community, if we choose to go to the faith school, this will free up a space as we would be certainties as it's only 100metres up the road from us