Recently I had a friend over for tea after Friday prayers whilst we were engaged in conversation we were just happen to be talking about our children of the future as parents would discuss as it’s human nature to map out what we want the best for them to be by encouraging them to be future leaders in their chosen field(s) the subject turned to the recent events of Birmingham Trojan Horse over alleged allegations of Muslim extremism in schools I made it clear that i am a man of no faith and I don’t in faith schools either but i respect all views and decide for myself in what I believe in for the best interest of our children of today then my friend said something which kept on ring in me to find out more of what my close friend Mohammed Ashraf had to say:
For many months we have seen the Trojan horse affair, gather momentum in national media, triggering a number of investigations and causing ruptures in senior government. All of course, on a letter that is largely seen as a fake.
As the dust settles, where has it left the predominantly Muslim community of inner-city Birmingham?
Having been a governor at Golden Hillock School, one of the Trojan horse affected schools from September 2012, I witnessed firsthand the challenges the school faced but given hope seeing the potential of young ambitious children seeking a good education. Parents see the values of education and understand their children’s potentials given the right tools in becoming the success of tomorrow.
On Thursday 21st August, thousands of children collected their GCSE results, pictures of joy posted across our television screens but in a small part of
Birmingham the mood was quite somber. From a few months ago where inner-city
Birmingham was the focus, many media outlets now have seem to of forgotten the devastation the Trojan horse affair has caused for the generation collecting their results at these schools. Golden Hillock School had forecasted 57% of their pupils achieving 5 GCSE’s A*-C but the results crashed to 45%, 5% above
floor targets. Leaked results have shown that Saltley School (37%) and Parkview Academy (58%) results have significantly dropped. Having a child also affected, what can I do without now being branded an extremist, who is responsible and accountable for these failures and what hope does my child and the many other children have affected by the whole affair?
Ofsted, DfE, EFA, Birmingham City Council and the politicians would think they have done a good job and move on but what about the generation lost?
I received a letter from the new PVET board with the first line, “Yesterday was a day to celebrate the many successes of the students of Park View and Golden Hillock”. I am already disappointed as a father who has been failed, what am I expected to celebrate, how are the other parents expected to celebrate whose children will not be able to continue their desired course? The letter has no mention of the results dropping or support for the children. If these drops are seen as a success in inner-city Birmingham schools, what are seen as failures?
What is the future for these schools?
I believe it will be to protect Head teachers first then children second. Liam
Byrne MP wanted ‘the best in the business and parental involvements’. This is now widely being seen as a major flaw. We have the new structure at PVET where the 3 permanent trustees are 3 current serving head teachers in Birmingham schools. 2 Parents will be elected, so head teachers will always have a majority. From leaks and now a widespread rumour, the local governing bodies will have little say in the running of the school in comparison with the rest of the schools across the country. The head teacher of the school will not be accountable to the local governing body nor will the schools finances but the responsibility of the PVET board. Applications for parent elections have gone out but NO terms of reference for Parent Governor Positions. As Arshad Malik put at Birmingham City Councils Joint Scrutiny Board (Education and Vulnerable Children and Social Cohesion and Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committees), “The applications are like applying for a CEO position”.
The Local governing body will merely have an oversight of the curriculum.
Clearly the new PVET board has trust issues with the Muslim community. What is more disturbing, head teachers will be accountable to head teachers which make a complete mockery of accountability. Structures are being demised only in these schools to protect head teachers despite failures, so parents and the community are unable to hold schools to account.
The Parent Governors will be ‘selected’ by the trustees to fill shortfalls in skills (seems to be the only trust that operates like this). NO democracy as there does not seems to be elections within the new processes. In short, a handpicked, who ‘they want’ and a dictatorship.
There are concerns that Friday prayers will eventually be stopped, although NOW no staff facilitates the prayer which of course is quite worrying. There are concerns that uniform will be targeted and adjustments in girls headscarves.
When Liam Byrne MP suggested, ‘the best in the businesses, was this in mind? Or were educationalists, people on financial backgrounds and community connected people?
The whole affair has been a mockery with now structures created putting head teachers first and children second. Speaking to many parents, the mood is starting to change as the new PVET board and DfE think they can walk all over parents, they may be in for a surprise.
Mohammed Ashraf Parent and Former Governor
Intriguingly I came across an article which confirming my suspicions as new officials running schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse scandal have been accused of dragging their feet over improvements.
Hodge Hill MP Liam Bryne said the confidence of parents with children at schools run by Park View Educational Trust had been “damaged once again” by a lack of “dialogue”.
All three of the group’s schools – Park View in Alum Rock, Nansen Primary in Saltley, and Golden Hillock in Sparkhill – were placed in special measures following snap Ofsted inspections triggered by claims of a plot by hardline Muslims to seize control.
The board of trustees was also replaced and Park View’s acting Principal Monzoor Hussain and Nansen deputy head Razwan Faraz were both suspended.
Mr Byrne wrote to education secretary Nicky Morgan demanding action to increase parental involvement in the schools by the start of the new academic year next week.
He told the Mail: “A lot of new as well as existing parents have been worrying about this over the summer and there has not been enough dialogue with them.
“Parents have not been given a strong enough voice.
“Now is the time to find a new way of working together.”
Writing to Ms Morgan, Mr Byrne said: “Given the acute need to rebuild trust, it would have been wisest to move during the summer to involve parents and set out a road map for parental involvement in trust and school governance.
“Instead, parents and I have had to press repeatedly for meetings to take place, for briefings to be issued and for a road map for parental involvement to be organised.
“As a result, parents’ confidence has been damaged once again, and an opportunity for a fresh start lost.
“I have three children in Birmingham schools, and I would not accept this situation for my children’s school.
“If it is not good enough for me, it is not good enough for these parents.”
His letter was also sent to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools Lord Nash and the Department for Education’s academies advisor Colin Diamond, as well as Trust members.
A total of five Birmingham schools were placed in special measures following the Trojan Horse scandal.
A Government-ordered report, compiled by former anti-terror chief Peter Clarke, discovered “compelling evidence” of an attempt by hardline Muslims to “gain control” of school governing bodies.
Mr Clarke’s report said: “The clear conclusion is that the Park View Educational Trust has, in effect, become the incubator for much of what has happened and the attitudes and behaviours that have driven it.”
The Trust was unavailable for comment.
But a statement on its website said it planned to hold elections next month for a new governing body, including parent directors.
“We are very proud of our students and are grateful to the school community and for the immense support we have received from parents and community members,” said the statement.
After having enlightening discussion with my friend I could not help but to reflect on what had been said and wondered is this what the so called big society is all about with divide and rule why was nothing done before when the Birmingham Coalition was in power they did not investigate as it happened on their watch and looking on to this present coalition in my opinion they have not prosecuted anybody at present. secondly why was no head teachers brought to justices with our judicial system and lastly why are the children allowed to fail the system if this happens then the sad truth is as parents we have fail our children.