Ofsted: Inspection or surveillance role? The ‘Trojan horse’ in Birmingham and Islamophobia

News release from Voice4Change EnglandVoice4Change England
June 2014

For immediate release

Ofsted: Inspection or surveillance role? The ‘Trojan horse’ in Birmingham and Islamophobia

The current fervour over the ‘Trojan Horse’ Birmingham story confirms how islamophobia has grown over recent years. The fact that this controversy has now gone to the highest levels of the cabinet, in the recent row between Theresa May and Michael Gove, shows how deep this runs.

In the space of a few months Ofsted have gone from recognising those schools as high performing ones, to raising serious concerns and from acting as an inspectorate body to becoming a state funded surveillance operation. All this on the basis of a dubious letter that was sent to Birmingham Council last year. As Arzu Merali one of the founders of Islamic Human Rights Commission states:

“The decision to investigate and the manner in which enquiries have been conducted have left Muslims feeling that it is a carefully orchestrated attack on the whole community, on its’ religious freedoms and on Muslim’s place in British society as equal citizens.”

Muslim communities in Birmingham and elsewhere in the country, and black faith and supplementary schools, are extremely fearful of the consequences of the Ofsted investigations and the fallout from this. For years Voice4Change and other groups have promoted the need to have more BME governors and schools to be reflective in their leadership of the communities that they serve and this will have severe impact on this.

The key question is now of trust and if Muslim communities are seen as untrustworthy and suspicious this suggests that we are now in a new era of McCarthyism in this country.    If the anti-terror surveillance structures that currently are in place continue to permeate to all sections of society there needs to be real analysis and challenges to this. Meanwhile the positive increases in attainment and the impact that newly arrived children, many of them from faith and non faith backgrounds, are having on this in places like London is not figuring on anyone’s agenda.

Voice4Change’s ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVESconference on the 26th June at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, London will begin to address some of these issues and others. We have speakers such as Arzu Merali from Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) who have written extensively on Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim racism, Professor Gus John and Iqbal Wahab

KUNLE OLULODE, director of Voice4Change England (V4CE), said:

“Our sector needs to grapple with the issue of faith in a more nuanced way and ensure that the ideological attack on Muslim communities is challenged. The current on-going episode in Birmingham schools is deeply disturbing and has consequences for all of us. Please join myself at the Alternative Perspectives conference on June 26th to look at this critical issue and many others”

Notes to editors: 
Voice4Change England
Voice4Change England (V4CE) is a national advocate for the Black and Minority Ethnic voluntary and community sector (BME VCS).  BME voluntary and community organisations (BME VCOs) are a crucial part of civil society that have emerged from and work for BME communities.  By supporting the BME VCS we aim to improve the life outcomes for BME and other disadvantaged communities. 
For more information or interviews please contact Communications Officer Saqib Deshmukh on 020 7697 4243 or email saqib@voice4change-england.co.uk