Concerns about an unbalanced curriculum forces government action


Plans for schools to promote British values are likely to have overwhelming support from people, the prime minister has said, following concerns about an Islamist takeover in Birmingham schools.

The government has also asked Ofsted to introduce routine no-notice school inspections in England following the regulator's findings of an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham.

Ofsted carried out inspections of 21 schools, following claims in an anonymous letter of an attempt to make the ethos of schools in Birmingham more conservative and Islamic.

The inspections also raised concerns about an exclusively Muslim culture in non-faith schools, and fears that children were not being encouraged to develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths.

The five Birmingham "Trojan Horse" schools - including three academies from the Park View Educational Trust - are being placed in special measures. A sixth school is also labelled inadequate for its poor educational standards.

In the wake of Ofsted's findings, Mr Gove has backed no-notice school inspections in England, which are now expected to go ahead. However, teaching unions have dismissed the move, saying that Ofsted could already inspect schools unannounced if it had concerns.

The chief Inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, said: "We should all be concerned if a school - of any kind - is failing to encourage children to develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths and cultures or allowing governors to exert inappropriate influence on the curriculum or other aspects of school life.

"It's vitally important that we remain vigilant for such problems developing in any part of the country.

"Under Ofsted's regional structure, our inspectors are now closer to the ground and to those we inspect than ever before. I have asked them to make sure they are using their local knowledge and contacts to identify where these type of problems may be taking hold.

"Where we hear of concerns, we will respond swiftly in order to reassure parents and the wider community that children are receiving the good, safe and well-rounded education to which they are entitled."

As a result of the claims, plans for schools to promote British values are likely to have the "overwhelming support" of people in the UK, David Cameron said.

Mr Cameron went on to say: "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."

Since January 2013, all schools have been required to respect British values. The Department for Education, which oversees education policy in England, now says it wants to create and enforce a clear and rigorous expectation on all schools to promote the fundamental British values from September this year.

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