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Comment on Ofsted’s report on alleged extremism in Birmingham schools

School leaders’ union NAHT has responded to the conclusions of the investigation by Ofsted into the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, said: “The reports are clear that the majority of leadership teams working in schools held the line for students despite immense personal pressure and a very real sense of isolation.

“We should take comfort in the willingness of staff to resist intimidation and put their careers on the line to protect their students.

“The reports reveal weaknesses in oversight, governance and support. They show that staff with concerns did not know where to turn. We can also see now that the awareness and training in the Prevent strategy should have been extended more consistently into primary schools.

“Let us be clear that that these findings are serious, if isolated. The majority of schools inspected have been cleared of any serious failings. Nonetheless, unacceptable practice has been reported. The profession should be the first to stand up for the basic entitlements of children in state schools.”

Mr Hobby added: “We see three major boundaries: first, governance must be fair and accountable. NAHT has already called for the introduction of formal training for governors along with greater powers to remove governors where there is serious cause for concern. Second, employment practice must adhere to regulation and law.

“Most importantly, children educated in state schools should be free from discrimination and entitled to receive a broad and balanced curriculum. This includes teaching in sport, music, science, religious education and sex and relationship education. There are examples where all three boundaries have been crossed.

“Given that autonomy has actually been encouraged and vigilance relaxed, in all but the most serious cases schools should first be offered the chance to bring their own house in order.

“We also need to learn longer term lessons: we need a confidential route for staff to raise concerns; a clearer statement of the basic entitlement of pupils; a more coherent mechanism to investigate allegations than we have seen in recent weeks; and resources to raise awareness and train staff and governors in the Prevent strategy.

"We should also separate the Ofsted judgement for governance from that of the professional management of the school, so we can see more clearly where heads and their leadership teams have come under undue pressure.

"The ability to ban staff and governors who promote extremist positions is welcome. But this power is limited without proper local oversight of both maintained schools and academies which can spot problems early. The power also has gaps relating to the removal of governors." 

Ends

Page Published: 09/06/2014