Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

Trojan hobby horses


Don’t forget: Troy was in Turkey — a Muslim country!

A scandal has been rumbling on in the UK primary and secondary education establishment. A few months ago the UK press splashed around the text of The Protocols of the Elders of Islam the “Trojan Horse” letter, purporting to be a missive from one group of Islamists to another, describing the progress of their nefarious plan to take over and islamise the Birmingham schools, and recommending methods for expanding the process to other cities. The quotes read like uncensored excerpts from Nigel Farage’s fever dream:

We have caused a great amount of organised disruption in Birmingham and as a result now have our own academies and are on the way to getting rid of more headteachers and taking over their schools. Whilst sometimes the practices we use may not seem the correct way to do things you must remember that this is say ‘jihad’ and as such using all measures possible to win the war is acceptable.

One needs to imagine an Osama bin Laden lookalike twirling the ends of his beard and laughing maniacally as he reads this aloud.

The letter was quickly revealed to be a fraud, but not quickly enough to stop the machinery of government from rolling into action. Schools that had recently been inspected by Ofsted (the government schools inspectorate) and been rated “outstanding” were now suddenly found to be “inadequate”, because they failed to raise “awareness of the risks of extremism”. The Gracelands Nursery School (for 2-4 year olds) was criticised by Ofsted for “school leaders were unaware of local authority or government guidelines on the prevention of extreme and radical behaviour as set out in the ‘Prevent’ programme”. Yes indeed, between nap time and government-mandated Easter egg hunt, they need to be trained to resist the blandishments of extremists like this one:tali-tubby

It has never been made clear, in any of the political tub-thumping and journalistic fireworks, whether the complaint is supposed to be that any of the schools had policies and/or atmosphere that were generally unacceptable — illegal, antisocial, or pedagogically unsound — or whether they simply were inappropriate for a supposedly secular — meaning Christian — school, or whether the problem was that the schools perhaps ought to have been incorporated as Islamic faith schools. I’m sure the Jewish schools proliferating in London don’t hold Easter celebrations — one such school was recently caught out removing questions on evolution from biology exams* — nor do the Catholic schools, I wager, abound in the tolerance of homosexuality which has been a core British value for several months now, at least, and which the Ofsted investigators consequently regretted bitterly at the Birmingham schools.

The schools were criticised for insufficient fealty to Father Christmas, and for supposedly having banned music for religious reasons. It’s all about serving the right higher power. Eliminating music lessons out of devotion to the Tory religion of budget cuts is praiseworthy; out of devotion to Islam, not so much. As I mentioned in a previous post last year, for reasons I cannot entirely fathom, the British find it completely acceptable to segregate boys and girls into separate schools, but a violation of all that is true and good and British to segregate them to different sides of the same classroom.

The government managed to cut through the superficialities and get right to the key issues, namely, which government minister was responsible for losing Birmingham, through insufficient zeal in the anti-Islamist cause. Education minister Michael Gove said it was all the fault of the Home Secretary, Theresa May:

Mr Gove has long argued that Whitehall is too soft on extremism; that it only confronts people once they’ve turned to violence; that you should ‘drain the swamp’ and not wait for ‘the crocodiles to reach the boat’.

(And, in case you’re wondering, comparing Muslim citizens to crocodiles is not racist incitement, thanks for asking.) The Home Office replied

The Department for Education is responsible for schools, the Home Office is not. They have got a problem and they are trying to make it someone else’s problem.

The prime minister had to come in and hose them both down.

* This being Britain, where life is a sport and sport is life, the main concern was only that they weren’t cheating, gaining an unfair advantage:

The examinations body, OCR, says it was satisfied that the girls did not have an unfair advantage. It now plans to allow the practice, saying it has come to an agreement with the school to protect the future integrity of the exams.

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