Plans for schools to promote “British values” revealed
David Cameron has backed the plans to promote “British values” in schools across the UK after Ofsted reports revealed a “culture of fear and intimidation” in a number of Muslim-dominated institutions in Birmingham.
Independent, private and religious schools are all bound to comply, but until yesterday the question of what constitutes “British values” remained unanswered.
During a visit to Sweden, for a mini-summit with EU leaders, Mr Cameron listed the principles that reflect the British national identity and said: “I would say freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions – those are the sorts of things that I would hope would be inculcated into the curriculum in any school in Britain whether it was a private school, state school, faith-based school, free school, academy or anything else.”
To ensure their promotion education secretary Michael Gove has announced a plan to carry out “unannounced dawn raid inspections” in schools and to establish a new regime to protect pupils from extremism. This involves tightening of the current system, which simply states that schools should “respect fundamental British values”.
Mr Cameron believes Gove’s move will win widespread support, including among migrant parents. The PM has also raised the culturally sensitive issue of the Islamic veil, suggesting that Muslim girls wearing the niqāb and the burqa in schools are “being silenced”.
David Hughes, one of the school leaders, told the International Business Times that he rejects the outcome of the reports.
Hughes said: “Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot.”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, argues that no one could dispute the importance of promoting the principles listed by Cameron as they are not British but “universal values”.
While the political row perseveres, the pupils of the five schools put under special measures for the alleged Trojan Horse plot, face the collateral damage of this story.
The Independent raised concern for those teenagers who will see the once respectable name of their school associated with extremism. Sadaq, a student at Park View school, fears that next year his colleagues at college will look at him and think “Is he carrying a bomb? Is he a terrorist?”