The buck stops with Mr Gove over ‘Trojan Horse’ plot

 

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A tsunami of schadenfreude has been sluicing through the liberal corners of Britain since the revelation, exquisitely timed to overshadow the Queen’s Speech, of a furious row between the Home and Education Secretaries.

With Mrs May bereft of her trusty adviser, Fiona Cunningham, and Mr Gove forced to issue a grovelling apology to her intelligence chief Charles Farr, the argument has had consequences for both ministers. Still, both are thought likely to survive a reshuffle, being potentially far more dangerous to the prime minister on the backbenches than in the Cabinet. But the substance of their argument matters far more than the political damage.

Ofsted’s report into the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ allegations of Islamic infiltration into Birmingham schools, published today, is expected to reveal that in at least one of the city’s primary schools, a Maths teacher required girls to cover their heads and sit together at the back of the classroom, segregated from the boys, and sent Muslim children on an expensive trip to Saudi Arabia from which non-Muslims were excluded. The report may well carry more unpalatable revelations – unpalatable but not suprising, given Mr Gove’s reforms. 

Deviations from the national norm were unthinkable in the old state school system which Mr Gove has been working overtime to transform: uniformity was built into those arrangements, while local council control meant that people with roots in the schools’ catchment areas kept their ears to the ground.

By freeing schools from those local authority bonds and mandating diversity, Mr Gove has undoubtedly overseen the creation of some schools that are centres of excellence. But if there are also opportunities for people with vested interests to hijack schools that are tax-payer funded, that is a severe problem which should have been anticipated. Mr Gove will be wearing the dunce’s cap for some time to come.

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