Trojan Horse schools: Harriet Harman calls on Government to protect music lessons

 

Harriet Harman has called on Culture Secretary Sajid Javid to intervene over schools at the centre of the “Trojan Horse” row dropping music from the curriculum, and called for a wider investigation into the issue.

The shadow Culture Secretary wrote to Mr Javid on Wednesday to express her “deep concern” following news that music had been banned at one of the schools highlighted in this week’s explosive Ofsted report. Another of the institutions named had discouraged extracurricular cultural visits and activities.

Ofsted published the results of inspections into 21 schools in Birmingham on Monday following an anonymous letter sent to the city council alleging socially conservative Muslims were trying to get on to governing bodies and impose their values on the schools.

The inspectors’ report rated five schools in Birmingham inadequate and the chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said “a culture of fear and intimidation” had developed at some of the institutions.

One of the five schools dubbed inadequate was Nansen Primary School, and the Ofsted inspectors highlighted that music had been banned from the curriculum.

It also reported that at Oldknow Academy “some members of staff actively discourage girls from… taking part in extracurricular visits and activities”.

This included challenging the summer play because “of their use of musical instruments” and the observation that a teacher covered his ears during a music lesson he was observing.

Ms Harman demanded that Mr Javid investigate whether the campaign against music was confined to just the two institutions or if it was a more widespread problem. A failure to act would send out the wrong message, she added.

“I am writing to ask what you are doing about the fact that these children are being deprived of music in these schools,” Ms Harman said. “It is imperative that you do not fail to take action to protect every child’s right to music.”

She added: “This is particularly worrying against a background of a fall in participation and a sense that the Government is not placing a proper value on music in schools,” she said.

This followed a speech at the Roundhouse in London on Monday which outlined Labour’s plans to put young people at the heart of their arts policies. Ms Harman also revealed statistics that showed the numbers of primary school children taking part in musical activities had declined from 55 per cent to 36 per cent since 2010.

Ms Harman reiterated in the letter her message from Monday: “It should be the right of every boy and girl to explore their musical potential which should be a journey which goes on for the rest of their life.”

Mr Javid, who visited Birmingham today, was unavailable for comment. He gave his first major speech to the arts sector last week in which he urged the arts community to ensure that “culture is for everyone”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said it was “completely unacceptable” that children in secular state schools should be denied access to music education on faith grounds.

She said: “We take this extremely seriously, and it was part of the considerations in the letters we have written to Oldknow and Nansen to give notice of the Secretary of State’s intention to terminate their funding agreements.”

She added that £171m had been committed over three years to a programme across England that ensures every child aged between five and 18 has the chance to learn a musical instrument and perform as part of ensembles and choirs.

“We have also invested £84m so that exceptionally talented young musicians and dancers from all backgrounds can benefit from specialist education and training.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?