Meeting the needs

The Guardian reports on two schools in Bradford “under suspicion for practices similar to those seen in Birmingham during the Trojan horse investigation.”

The BBC reported that the previous headteacher of Carlton Bolling college, a state secondary resigned in 2012 after disagreements with the school’s governors, while minutes of governors’ meetings suggest that efforts were made to segregate boys and girls in sex and relationship education classes and in after-school activities.

The head, Chris Robinson, resigned because she felt her integrity and leadership were being questioned by governors, according to documents seen by the BBC.

Faisal Khan, the chair of governors at Carlton Bolling, denied the allegations and said the governors’ aim was to improve academic standards and meet the needs of the local community.

“At the end of the day we have a school that has 90 to 95% Muslim children, we meet their needs – whether it is halal food, whether it is prayer within school [or] wearing the hijab,” he told the BBC.

Wearing the hijab? What would a school need to do to “meet the needs” of girls wearing the hijab? I wonder if that’s really what he means, or if he means the needs of parents who want to enforce wearing the hijab on daughters who don’t want to. The two are quite different.


  1. Omar Puhleez says

    IMHO the core issue is not far below the surface here; in fact it is arguably sticking out like the Rock of Gibraltar. The ‘needs of the community’, whatever that means, are at least two-fold: to ensure that each student is grounded, anchored, indoctrinated (or whatever the term is) in the Faith, and at the same time kept protected, insulated, isolated (or whatever the term is) from alternative and competing doctrines, faiths, philosophies and worldviews. Cocooned all together in a common cocoon.
    From the Guardian article:”Governors from Carlton Bolling are said to have visited schools in Birmingham including Park View academy, which was placed in special measures by Ofsted on Monday for failing to teach pupils about the risks of extremism.”
    All ‘extremists’ do is take the tenets of their faith to a logical conclusion, finding for example, easy Koranic justification for blowing to smithereens those with a different outlook, interpretation or faith. Such people come with the religious territory.
    At the same time, we might ask, why aren’t the concerned members of the ‘community’ back in whatever Islamistan they came from? One would assume it is because they want a materially better life in the UK, which is there for them mainly because about 500 years ago religion began to be fenced off, and kept from intervention in areas like science, and thus from technology.
    The ‘community’ thus leads the students on a tightrope walk across the turbulent river of liberalism.
    Will they make it?

  2. Robert Smythson says

    “At the end of the day we have a school that has 90 to 95% Muslim children, we meet their needs”.

    This statement is really the key to the whole issue. I’ve lurked here for a fair old time, but I hope I might be able to contribute something, having taught workshops at one of the “Trojan horse” schools in Birmingham.

    I found that in a nominally secular school where the majority of pupils are Muslim, the efforts made to “meet their needs” created a culture which accepts these “needs” as normal and this had conspicuous effects on the relationship between male and female pupils.When we “meet the needs” of children who have been brought up to believe that it is normal that man have hegemony over women, then we simply allow them to act out their poisonous beliefs.

    The boys did not mix with the girls, though there was no segregation practiced by the staff.

    The boys paid no attention to the female staff.

    The girls only talked amongst themselves.

    The girls would not proffer answers to questions.

    The boys regulated the girls’ behaviour by shouting them down.

    Allegedly there was a problem with girls disappearing at “marriageable” age.

    If you accommodate the hijab in such a school, then it becomes abnormal not to wear it if you are a Muslim girl.

    It doesn’t even take a great uniformity of belief amongst the pupils; just that enough over-indulged boys are allowed to set the tone and cow the rest into living their way. The girls are silent on the matter, so who knows or cares what they think. The children operated in their own, self imposed, self policed culture. No outside pressure from islamists is needed (and may indeed be fictitious). They have been raised to believe this is the way things should be; and have never been challenged by staff who attempt in good faith to accept and accommodate their needs.
    I’d be very reluctant to blame the staff for this. They work in an extremely difficult environment and struggle generally heroically against a tide of low expectation, little support, inadequate facilities and insufficient money. I can’t imagine any of them would feel it was their place to tell the assembled school that most of their deeply held beliefs were both crazy and wrong.
    (Hence, actually, the conflicting narratives from staff and the government can be resolved by realising that even if the staff were doing great things in terms of raising attainment, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t operating in a culture in which the nastier elements of conservative religion thrive.)
    If you think this is only Muslim problem: look to the revelations about faith-based institutions in Ireland. This can happen anywhere the most misogynistic elements of religion are allowed to go unchallenged – they become normal.

  3. miraxpath says

    If you accommodate the hijab in such a school, then it becomes abnormal not to wear it if you are a Muslim girl.

    That sentence leapt out at me. I rail and rant against the accomodation of the hijab in schools and public institutions for precisely this reason. I live in a society that is 15% muslim, our closest neightbours are muslim-majority countries and what I have seen over the last 20 years matches the above observation. Western liberals and feminists who argue for “choice” or think of the hijab as an innocuous garment have no idea of what they are up against.

    Btw, Faisal Khan used to be from Galloway’s Respect Party; one of the ‘loudest voices (heavily promoted by the Guardian) decrying the Birmingham school fiasco as nothing but pure unadulterated “‘islamophobia” , Salma Yacoub, is also from the same party.

  4. Amy Clare says

    Meeting the needs of the parents for sure. If the school’s pupils are majority Muslim then it’s the girls who don’t want to wear the hijab that are going to have the hard time. I hear that the amount of shaming of those girls by their own family members and friends can be intense.


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