UK & World News

  • 10 June 2014, 2:35

Gove: Schools Should 'Promote British Values'

Education Secretary Michael Gove says the Government will consult on new rules to require schools to "actively promote British values".

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Gove told MPs the findings of inspections by Ofsted into 21 Birmingham schools needed a "robust but considered response".

He acknowledged there had been "a failure in the past" to address concerns about extremism, adding that the school inspection regime should be strengthened.

"There are questions for Birmingham Council, Ofsted and the Department of Education," he said.

"We all must acknowledge that there has been a failure in the past... But no government has done more to attack extremism than this Government."

He added: "We will put the promotion of British values at the heart of what every school has to deliver for children."

Ofsted inspected the 21 schools after allegations of an attempted takeover of the city's schools by Islamist extremists.

Five have now been placed in special measures as a result. 

The five schools are: Park View School, Golden Hillock School, Nansen Primary School, Saltley School and Specialist Science College and Oldknow Academy.

A sixth school, Alston Primary, was already in special measures.

Inspectors found the schools were not taking their duty to protect children from extremism and radicalisation seriously enough.

One school had even invited a speaker known for their extremist views to give a talk.

Teachers reported they were being treated unfairly because of their sex or religion and that boys and girls were not treated equally.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw earlier said schools were being run under a "culture of fear and intimidation".

He said successful head teachers had been forced out of their posts or "marginalised", leaving a "vacuum" leading to "a collapse in morals and a rapid decline".

The "steep and sudden decline" meant schools which were recently judged outstanding by inspectors were now found inadequate, he said.

Sir Michael said that a number of head teachers had "reported that there's been an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham in order to impose a narrow faith-based ideology and alter the schools character and ethos."

The Ofsted chief also placed significant levels of blame at the door of Birmingham City Council, saying it had reacted too slowly.

He has made a number of recommendations including better training for governors, better vetting of governors and a register of interests.

Schools will also be issued with guidance on what a broad and balanced curriculum should be.

Sir Michael's recommendations could raise big questions for Mr Gove's Free and Academy schools project, which gives schools more freedom over what they teach.

It comes after a row erupted between Mr Gove and Mrs May after the Education Secretary said the Home Office had failed to properly deal with extremism.

Speaking in the House of Commons after the publication of the reports the Home Secretary Theresa May said: "We need to do everything we can to protect children from extremism."

Advertisement