The Controversial Legacy of the Birmingham Trojan Horse Scandal | Letters

Nesrine Malik’s otherwise excellent analysis pays too little attention to the motivation behind Michael Gove’s demonization of local engagement in school leadership (Muslims still carry the stigma of the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal). This may be what was planned, February 28). Twenty years ago I worked with a number of ethnic minority communities across England, helping them set up additional schools to make up for the often poor state education they had after 18 years of Conservative government. In a Birmingham suburb with a significant majority of people of Bangladeshi descent, the local primary school did not have a single Muslim governor.

When questioned, the principal said that “these parents are not interested in education – they don’t even come to parents’ evenings”. “When do you organize your parents’ meetings?” we asked. “In the evening, of course.” We have pointed out that the main occupation of many Bangladeshi men is catering and that many women do not leave their homes unescorted at night. We promised to demonstrate our point and filled the school hall for a social gathering, food and music included. By the end of the night, we had three new principals. The seeds had been sown of a school able to understand and respond to the needs of its community.

Gove’s preference for irresponsible chain academies, many of which are sponsored by hedge fund investors and businessmen, is the real threat to the local community school system, accountable to the people who send their children to them. – and pay them.
Nigel Gann
Lichfield, Staffordshire

I write as someone who was a long time governor of the Golden Hillock School, renamed after the Trojan horse scandal. We now live in a different world to where the Sunday Times went public with a Birmingham schools case in 2014 with all the hype that followed, but there remains a degree of negative perception amongst some of our population regarding Muslims and Islam.

The Dreyfus affair in France, like the Trojan horse, was based on a forged letter. He appealed to strong antipathy among sections of society towards the Jewish people. Racism was not sufficiently addressed, and many years later the Vichy regime of Pierre Laval delivered French Jews to the Nazis. Can Ukraine remind us that the dignity, freedom and security of all Britons are precious to all of us and must be defended? Lessons such as inclusion and the impartial application of the rule of law that defends difference can be part of the lessons learned for the common good. This must be our highest goal.
John Ray
Hook, East Riding of Yorkshire

Nesrine Malik did not understand the Trojan horse affair in Birmingham. The question is whether local authority schools can provide a general education and give pupils a basic understanding of a multicultural society. We now have academies which can be created by any religious organization or individual.

Those of us who had hope that a public service of education would ensure a reflective society with a wide range of cultural communities have now lost it. We now have a state-funded education system with schools that are not required to follow the national curriculum. The sense of a coherent identity is being lost.
Peter Bailey
King’s Heath, Birmingham

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