Dutch Minister wants school to work on the prevention of radicalization

Jet Bussemaker, minister of Education, says that teachers should be more aware of their ‘social role’. School is the place where different groups from society get in contact with each other and if signs of radicalization are being seen, the school should take action. For example when a boy decides he doesn’t want to sit with girls anymore.

In the same sense the minister doesn’t agree with schools that have plans to replace the lowest levels of education (The Dutch schooling system knows roughly 3 levels of education) to a different location. Cause school is the place where different groups, low- and high educated people can meet each other. Teachers have an important task to bring these people together and to make sure appreciation for each other will occur.

School heads warn of Trojan Horse overreaction

August 12, 2014

Anti-extremism measures for schools in the wake of the Trojan Horse inquiries are rushed and could have unintended consequences, head teachers warn. They claim proposed regulations could inhibit “free discussion” and are calling for a longer time for consultation. The rules apply to England’s academies, independent and free schools. A Department for Education spokeswoman said they promoted “tolerance and respect of all faiths and cultures”.

These updated regulations, intended to reduce the threat of extremism and intolerance, include calls for schools to promote “British values”, such as “mutual respect and tolerance”. But head teachers have also raised concerns about the proposed requirements.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education rejected the concerns. “The Independent School Standards are designed to ensure every school prepares children for life in modern Britain. We make no apology for demanding high standards and the promotion of tolerance and respect of all faiths and cultures. It is simply untrue to say that the proposed changes – which received 1400 responses and last six weeks – would prevent teachers using gender-specific terms or require schools to downgrade Christian festivals.”

CAIR-OK Welcomes School District’s Decision to Drop Islamophobic Film

(TULSA, OK, 8/13/2014) – The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) today welcomed a decision by Jenks Public Schools’ administration to stop using an Islamophobic Oklahoma City bombing conspiracy film in their classrooms. In May 2014, after receiving a complaint from a concerned parent, CAIR-OK questioned the schools’ use of the film “Conspiracy: Oklahoma City Bombing” as a part of its Oklahoma History Curriculum. The film falsely suggests that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was the work of “Middle-Eastern Islamist organizations.

A letter received from Jenks Public Schools Assistant Superintendent dated August 5, 2014, stated that, “upon further review of the video, a committee of district level administrators has determined that the video will be removed from the collection in the Freshman Academy Media Center.”

This decision came after the Jenks Public schools’ Materials Review Committee chose to keep the video as a part of their media library following a request for review in June 2014.

“We welcome this decision on behalf of the parents of Muslim students in Jenks school district and in the broader Oklahoma Muslim community,” said CAIR-OK Executive Director Adam Soltani. “Islamophobic classroom materials should be of concern to all parents, because they can lead to anti-Muslim bullying and a general atmosphere of Islamophobia within the school system.”

‘Trojan Horse schools plot’: What was the Trojan Horse letter?

July 6, 2014

 

In March, an anonymous letter was made public that claimed to be a template illustrating how state schools could be taken over and pushed into adopting a more Islamic culture. The document – now thought to be a hoax – proposed a campaign of installing governors and undermining and then replacing school leaders with staff who would be more sympathetic to their religious agenda.

It refers to “Operation Trojan Horse” as the name of the alleged conspiracy. This classical allusion refers to using a device to get past the defences and to take over the school system from within. It was apparently intended for schools serving areas with a large Muslim population. The tactics it proposed had already been used in Birmingham, the Operation Trojan Horse letter claimed. It has emerged that Birmingham City Council, the Department for Education’s Extremist Unit, the West Midlands Police Counter-Terrorism Unit and the National Association of Head Teachers were already aware of the letter.

A former head teacher at a Birmingham school said that such religiously-motivated, concerted attempts at forcing out heads had been taking place since the 1990s. Another head teacher said he had told the Department for Education (DfE) about the problem in 2010.

 

What are the claims?

There have been claims that boys and girls are being taught separately, assemblies have put forward extremist Islamist views and that a culture is created in which other religions are downgraded. Schools have rejected claims of extremism. There are also claims that teachers and head teachers have been discredited and undermined.

 

How seriously are claims of takeover plots being taken?

Michael Gove appointed former counter-terror chief, Peter Clarke, to investigate “the background behind many of the broader allegations in the Trojan Horse letter” for the DfE. Mr Gove says he expects to publish these findings in July. This appointment has created a controversy of its own, with the chief constable of West Midlands police calling it “desperately unfortunate” as people could draw “unwarranted conclusions” from Mr Clarke’s former role in counter terrorism. Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw took personal charge of the education watchdog’s investigations.

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr, believes there are reasons to be concerned. “All the information I’m getting… is there has been a serious bid to take over most of the schools in the east and south of the city,” he said.

The National Association of Head Teachers says it takes the claims “extremely seriously”.

Tahir Alam, chair of governors at Park View School, says claims are “ridiculous”

How are the claims being investigated?

Including Ofsted’s, there are four investigations – carried out by Birmingham City Council, the DfE and the Education Funding Agency.

Ofsted said this was “new territory” – when it launched its biggest ever co-ordinated set of inspections over fears of extremism. It inspected 21 schools – a mix of primary, secondary, local authority and academies. They carried out unannounced inspections of a type which focuses on a single concern, rather than the overall quality of teaching and learning. When inspectors do not like what they find they have wide-ranging powers to intervene and order a change of direction.

The city council says that it is investigating 25 schools – prompted by more than 200 contacts from the public. An adviser has been appointed and there will be a review group of MPs, councillors, teachers’ organisations, police and faith leaders. But the politics of education have also become involved, with the council saying it is frustrated that it cannot investigate academies which operate outside of local authority control.

The government and Ofsted have produced an array of proposed changes to school governance after the publication of an inspection report on 21 Birmingham schools. Ofsted found “a culture of fear and intimidation” had taken grip in schools at the centre of the so-called Trojan Horse allegations.

The inspections followed claims in an anonymous letter that hard-line Muslims were trying to impose their views on some of the city’s schools.

Five have been placed in special measures, among them three academies from the Park View Educational Trust.

 

What are the main proposals?

Mr Gove said the government would require all schools to “promote British values” and would back Ofsted’s plan to introduce no-notice school inspections in England.

The chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, recommended:

  • Mandatory training for school governors
  • Changes to funding agreements for academies and free schools
  • An end to the exemption of free schools and academies from the national curriculum

 

What will happen to the five schools in special measures?

In his speech to the House of Commons, Mr Gove said the need for action was “urgent”.

Michael Gove Michael Gove says no pupil should be exposed to extremist views. “Academies will receive letters saying I am minded to terminate funding agreements,” he told MPs.

If this goes ahead, it would mean that Park View Education Trust, which runs Park View and two primary schools, would no longer receive funding to run the schools. The same will apply to Oldknow Academy. A DfE spokesman said this would be the first time this had happened. The DfE is awaiting a response from the trust and would have to find new sponsors for the three schools.

Mr Gove said the governors at local authority run Saltley School would be replaced. The Department for Education said Birmingham City Council had already started the process of imposing an interim executive board at Saltley. A sixth school, local authority run Alston Primary which has been in special measures since May, is already in the process of being turned into an academy “under a strong sponsor”, said the DfE.

 

How does the government define British values?

The prime minister defined British values as “freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law, belief in personal and social responsibility and respect for British institutions”. David Cameron said he hoped these values would be inculcated in any school in Britain “whether it was a private school, state school, faith-based school, free school, academy or anything else”.

The Department for Education added: “We want to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

 

How will British values be applied to all schools?

The Department for Education says the Independent School Standards, which apply to private schools, academies and free schools, already require schools to “respect” British values. It plans to consult shortly on tighter wording that will require schools to actively “promote” British values. The DfE says it is working with Ofsted on how inspectors will assess the new requirement. Ofsted will also update its training and guidance of inspectors.

School governors will be expected to play a role “in setting and securing an appropriate ethos and monitoring practice” in schools, says the DfE.

 

How might governors’ training change?

Training for governors is currently optional. It can be provided by local authorities or by the National College of Teaching and Leadership. The Department for Education and the National Governors’ Association (NGA) have both produced handbooks. The NGA says training is essential to help governors understand their complex and challenging role and responsibilities. Governors are expected to develop the ethos of the school, hold the head teacher to account and have financial oversight.

The NGA says the academies programme has brought more autonomy to schools so governing boards have more responsibility than ever and need training. “If a governor fails persistently to do this, then they will be in breach of the code of conduct and may bring the governing body or the office of a governor into disrepute – and as such provide grounds for the governing body to consider suspension,” said a spokesman.

 

How could the oversight of academies change?

Traditionally, local authorities have had a role in monitoring standards in the schools they control, acting as a “middle tier” between schools and the Department for Education. Now more than half of secondary schools are academies, funded directly by central government, free of local authority control and able to decide their own curriculum. Concerns have been expressed about the viability of Whitehall monitoring thousands of academies. The government is introducing regional schools commissioners and Head Teacher Boards to improve oversight of academies, while the Labour party proposes a network of regional school standards directors.

 

How did Home Secretary Theresa May become involved?

In a letter to the Education Secretary, Mrs May has raised concerns about the DfE’s handling of the allegations of extremism. She said concerns had been raised about the “inability” of local and central government to tackle the alleged problem in Birmingham’s schools. She also questioned whether Mr Gove’s department was warned about the allegations in 2010 and asked: “If so, why did nobody act?”

The two senior Cabinet members have now moved to dampen down speculation of a rift. They have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement insisting they are “working together” on the issue. Commentators are seeing the row as two Conservative heavy-weights jostling for position should there be any change to the party’s leadership.

 

How widespread is this problem?

The biggest inquiry so far is the council’s, which is looking at 25 schools in Birmingham, out of more than 400 in the city. The council says that it will also be talking to local authorities in Bradford and Manchester.

 

Sources:

The Guardian 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/06/michael-gove-defend-liberal-values-islamist-extremism

The BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-27020970

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-26482599

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27024881

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-27012861

The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-row-teachers-suspended-for-refusing-to-impose-strict-islamic-model-9530535.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-school-when-i-go-to-college-people-are-going-to-say-is-he-carrying-a-bomb-9517826.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trojan-horse-row-theresa-may-accused-of-writing-letter-slating-department-of-eduction-just-to-leak-it-9517286.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-schools-ofsted-finds-culture-of-fear-and-intimidation-9515306.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/trojan-horse-schools-tried-to-fool-inspectors-ofsted-report-reveals-9511895.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trojan-horse-row-theresa-may-breached-ministerial-code-in-feud-with-michael-gove-over-extremism-in-schools-labour-claims-9509342.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/trojan-horse-row-michael-gove-ordered-to-apologise-to-cameron-for-times-briefing-9507170.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/michael-gove-promises-to-push-on-with-controversial-school-reforms-9503822.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/gross-negligence-tristram-hunt-challenges-goves-handling-of-trojan-horse-schools-crisis-9503534.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/trojan-horse-pupils-not-safe-from-extreme-views-claims-ofsted-report-9494642.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/michael-gove-denies-war-with-theresa-may-over-antiextremism-strategy-9492098.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lib-dems-in-call-for-all-state-teachers-to-be-qualified-9533271.html

The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10963620/Trojan-Horse-hardliner-runs-teacher-recruiting-agency.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10956859/Ofsted-tougher-inspections-in-wake-of-Trojan-Horse-plot.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10949131/Trojan-Horse-plot-school-pays-campaigner-5000-in-public-money-to-thwart-Ofsted.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10949930/Trojan-Horse-Birmingham-council-ignored-warnings-for-12-years.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10892606/Trojan-Horse-debate-We-were-wrong-all-cultures-are-not-equal.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/10883151/Trojan-Horse-plot-school-criticised-in-Ofsted-report.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10899804/Trojan-Horse-how-we-revealed-the-truth-behind-the-plot.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10900683/Ofsted-head-to-meet-parents-in-Trojan-Horse-plot.html

Discussion about the Turkish “Matura”

June 11, 2014

Austrian gymnasiums are going to establish Turkish “Matura” (general qualification for university entrance). Apart from the rightwing party FPÖ there is no resistance against that effort. The FPÖ opinion in that case is, that a Turkish Matura will negatively affect the integration process of the Turkish migrants.

Malala Yousafzai urges British girls not to take education for granted

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old shot by the Taliban for promoting female education and who later became an international advocate for children’s rights, has warned British girls not to take their schooling for granted. Malala, now a pupil at Edgbaston School for Girls, urged British students to regard education as precious. “Reading a book, having a pen in our hands, studying, sitting in a classroom is very special for us because once we were deprived [of] it and because [of] what we have seen in Swat.” Adding, “I don’t know why people have divided the whole world into two groups, west and east. Education is neither eastern nor western. Education is education and it’s the right of every human being.”

No one should be forced to enter the house of God

31 March, 2011
The Islamic Council of Norway (IRN) asks for the legal right to for Muslim pupils to refrain to visiting synagogues as part of schooling. It should not be obligatory, says the Council, to visit the houses of worship of other religions as part of one’s education. Christian or Jewish children shouldn’t be forced to visit the mosque either, says Mehtab Afsar, secretary General of IRN. But he also wants to make clear there is no Islamic rule that forbids Muslims from visiting other religion’s houses of worship, as long as they do not partake in the rituals.

Dutch Muslims Search for Schooling

February 15 2011

Following an announcement by Education Minister Marja van Bijsterveldt that Amsterdam’s only Islamic secondary school will be closing due to too few pupils, the city’s orthodox Muslims are searching for other schooling options. Many are reluctant to send their children through the mainstream education system, as they feel these schools can restrict their children or make them feel unwelcome. Increasingly parents are embracing home schooling as an option for providing religious education, though the city’s Executive Councilor for Education thinks the plan is a bad idea.

Fraud found at 86 percent of Islamic schools

Almost 9 out of every 10 Islamic schools in the Netherlands has been found to spend government subsidies unlawfully. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, illegal spending at 86 percent of Islamic schools ranges from salaries to ‘teachers’ who were not properly trained, but often ended up being wives of management board members, and unlawful payments for transport, including a trip to Saudi Arabia. The education ministry is attempting to reclaim 4.5 euro back in unlawfully spend school subsidies.

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Separate classes for immigrant pupils ‘discriminatory’ says MP

Italian MP Souad Sbai condemned a newly approved government measure that will allow schools to hold separate classes for immigrant children who fail admissions tests in Italian state schools. “I say no to such classes because I consider them discriminatory towards immigrant children,” said Sbai. According to the Northern League, the separate classes will be for those children who fail language and ‘general evaluation’ tests for admission to mainstream schooling, will help such children integrate and will counter racism in the country. “We do not agree with the creation of separate classrooms for immigrant pupils because it means splitting up the children and creating ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams,” responded Sbai. She added that she would prefer to see extra lessons provided in after school hours or over the summer, instead of separating immigrant schoolchildren from their peers.

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