The Accord Coalition has described findings offered by Ofsted today (9 June 2014) into a group of Birmingham community schools accused of furthering an Islamist agenda as "the disaster-waiting-to-happen."
Chair of the Accord Coalition, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, said: "The Accord Coalition for Inclusive Education has long told the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Michael Gove, that the policies and practices of all state funded schools, including free schools and academies, should contribute towards promoting community cohesion. The need for which has been reinforced by the attempts at establishing a mono-vision at certain schools in Birmingham.
"The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal highlights the disaster-waiting-to-happen when education is based on knowledge without also promoting values and social harmony between disparate groups in society. It is wrong for community schools to come under religious interference by governors, have syllabus restrictions and face pressures of cultural conformity, but we should also ask why such practices should be tolerated at any state funded school. Schools should be a place where children of all backgrounds mix together freely and are educated in common values of British citizenship. Different faiths should be respected and religious knowledge taught, but schools should be shared spaces, open and suitable for all.
"This debacle also begs questions over what is happening in schools that are designated faith schools, which are able legally to curtail both teacher employment and pupil admissions, as well as tailor the curriculum on faith grounds. The dangers of limiting children’s horizons and creating a divisive approach are even greater in schools, and their freedom to discriminate needs much closer scrutiny."
* Ekklesia is a co-founder of the Accord Coalition (http://accordcoalition.org.uk/)