The Trojan horse affair: with a teaspoon of curiosity, half a pound of politics, one cup of race, a pinch of education and a whole bowl of confusion – freshly served to the British public!
Now that pretty much sums up the British political scene for the past week.
Let’s have a breakdown of the drama to get our heads around the Birmingham bonanza.
It all started one brisky morning in November of last year. A letter was sent from Birmingham Islamist group to counterparts in Bradford. The letter advised them to carry out a similar attack as they had apparently done by hijacking boards of governors in predominant Muslim state schools and forced out the non-Muslim opposition.
HOWEVER, the letter was entangled with errors. Hence, it was widely believed to be a hoax. This flimsy piece of paper was passed around like a high school love note. It travelled to Birmingham city’s administration, then got passed to West Midlands police until it finally arrived at the Home Office who then decided to forward it to the Department of Education, where it gathered dust until February when it was leaked to the media.
What is astonishing is that this hoax of a paper has resulted in shaking the knees of politicians, leading into four separate inquiries, including the Ofsted inspection of 21 schools, in particular Park View Academy which has now been placed in special measures.
A little drama was also stirred in a public spat between Michael Gove and Theresa May regarding the definition of extremism. The DfE’s definition of extremism has also shifted from suicide bombers to religious conservatives. Now that my friends, is a dangerously wide definition.
Thus the confusion and uproar when a word that most associate with a bearded man taking over and throwing bombs left, right and centre is used so lightly.
Rest assured all was resolved with the predictable and sufficient public apology which was followed by the resignation of one of May’s special advisers for revealing too much… revealing too much of what may I ask?
The claims that have sent politicians dizzy include allegations of segregated classes, compulsory prayers and incendiary preachers at school assemblies.
HOWEVER, evidence of such occurrences is yet to be found.
Which explains why the focus for the investigation has slipped from extremism to “an awareness of the risks associated with extremism” is the phrase now used by Ofsted inspectors.
But the final piece of the jigsaw has to be the reputation of Ofsted – those darn reports that Ofsted previously compiled praising several of the schools for their academic results and record for improving community relations are under fire.
The real question now is which Ofsted inspection failed us? The earlier one that praised the schools? Or the one that has put them under special measures?
As a child I never really understood the game rock, paper, scissors…But now I’m coming to understand how paper can win rock… it must be one weak rock that crumbles in the face of one flimsy paper – now that I guess better explains the British political scene.
Written by Sameera Rafiq