BCASE condemns the Islamophobia which is being whipped up by the press coverage of this issue, including such terms as ‘Jihadist plot’.
We also condemn the appointment by Mr Gove of Peter Clarke, a former head of counter-terrorism, to lead an inquiry. We believe this is a provocative appointment which will fuel Islamophobia and we call for his removal.
We believe that one factor in the current situation is the lack of local democratic accountability of school governing bodies as a result of the Government’s policies of undermining local authorities and removing academies and free schools from local authority overview.
BCASE affirms the importance of the involvement of members of the Muslim community, as of other communities, in school governance. We also affirm the importance of the school curriculum teaching pupils to respect their own culture and that of others.
However, BCASE recognises that there may have been questionable practices at the schools being investigated. In that context we note for example the statement by NAHT General Secretary Russell Hobby that “We have been doing detailed casework for schools and we have serious concerns about what’s been going on in about half a dozen schools… In a small number of cases the association believes the actions may have broken the principles of governance, contravened good employment practices and risk eroding the basic entitlement of children to a rounded education.” (BBC news website 2 May)
In our view it is not possible to judge and comment on the validity of the concerns that have been expressed from various standpoints until the inquiries that are currently taking place have reported their findings and the reports of the Ofsted inspections become available. BCASE will then make an assessment of them in the light of their methods and findings and respond to them at that time.