UK schools may undergo inspections overhaul

The UK government is planning a major overhaul of the country`s school inspection system amid a controversy around Islamist extremists wielding undue influence over some educational institutions.

PTI| Last Updated: Jun 22, 2014, 23:37 PM IST

London: The UK government is planning a major overhaul of the country`s school inspection system amid a controversy around Islamist extremists wielding undue influence over some educational institutions.

Schools face being closed down by the government if they fail to promote British values such as ensuring children know the difference between right and wrong, under plans to prevent extremism in the classroom.

According to the `Sunday Telegraph`, UK schools inspectorate Ofsted`s reviewed policies will see 20,000 schools in England required to step in to challenge parents, teachers or pupils who express support for radical Islamic practices and other beliefs contrary to the fundamental tenets of British society.
If inspectors find schools are failing to meet the new requirement, headteachers and governors could be sacked or in the worst cases the school could be closed.

A consultation from the Department for Education (DfE) will be launched this week, setting out the details of the new rules, the newspaper said.

The new measures come in the wake of revelations around "Operation Trojan Horse", which indicated an alleged rise of hardline practices in certain schools in the city of Birmingham.

Six schools in the city were put under special measures after an Ofsted inspection found they had fallen into the hands of bullying governors who had sought to narrow the curriculum and exclude non-Muslim pupils.

The investigations have now been expanded across other cities in England, including east London, Bradford and Luton.

A DfE spokesman said, "Keeping our children safe and ensuring schools prepare them for life in modern Britain could not be more important.
This change is an important step towards ensuring we have a strong legal basis for intervening in those schools where this is an issue."

"The vast majority of schools already promote British values this is about making sure we have the tools we need to intervene if children are being let down", he added.

The proposed definition of "promoting" the required values will include challenging pupils, staff or parents who expressing opinions that are contrary to fundamental British values.