Tristram Hunt: Alleged Birmingham schools takeover plot shows we need more local scrutiny


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The Independent Online

The controversy over an alleged takeover of Birmingham schools by Islamic hardliners pinpoints the needs for more local scrutiny of schools, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt will say on Saturday.

He will claim that the controversy has shown "the inability of the Department for education to run 5,000 schools from Whitehall".

Inspectors from the education standards watchdog Ofsted have been sent in to 25 of the city's schools to investigate whether there is any evidence that Islamic governors have introduced policies like segregating boys and girls for lessons, and that some headteachers have quit their jobs as a result.

Some of the schools under investigation are academies and therefore no longer come under Birmingham City Council's jurisdiction.

Mr Hunt, in a speech to the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers conference in Birmingham, will praise the city council for launching its own investigation into the allegations.

However, he will say it pinpoints the need for better local oversight of schools and promise that a review on education structures by former Education Secretary David Blunkett for the Labour party will come up with proposals for strengthening local oversight of schools "within a few weeks".

In his speech, Mr Hunt will say: "We can't have headteachers forced out: teachers undermined: curricula rewritten and culture or gender-based segregation."

"It is more important than ever to unite not fracture communities," he will add.