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Gove again...

(51 Posts)
JessM Tue 15-Apr-14 19:12:41

Those of you interested in education will have been following the hooha in Birmingham that is based on an anonymous letter alleging a fundamentalist muslim plot to take over school governing bodies. OFSTED and west midlands police are already investigating. So Gove has now sent an ex-head of counter terrorism to do his own investigation. Even the west midlands police are horrified at this tactless move. Sounds like a good way to offend Muslim voters to me.

Aka Tue 15-Apr-14 19:48:08

The man's an idiot.

JessM Sat 19-Apr-14 13:31:52

And in fairness the shadow education secretary is being just as much of an idiot commenting on this anonymous allegation. Why should muslims not dominate school governing bodies in areas where the kids are predominantly muslim. The government have been letting Anglicans and Catholics run schools for years, many of them segregated on gender lines.

Penstemmon Sat 19-Apr-14 18:01:09

Also part of Gove's longer term plan to reduce the numbers of Governors to a more 'manageable' half dozen!

JessM Sat 19-Apr-14 20:19:27

Well there are some huge ones. One in the local press recently made a right cock up when they passed a motion of no confidence in the head teacher!!!! They are now down one chair. Gove does not know whether to love or hate governors. However one would be hard put to do the work required if you only had half a dozen. Impossible probably.

Penstemmon Sat 19-Apr-14 20:51:25

Like LAs they are a useful scapegoat when things go pear shaped!

i think a smaller GB would be better. On ours there are a core of us who work hard to support the school. others turn up to meetings only!

JessM Mon 21-Apr-14 07:20:22

But how small... If there is a staff disciplinary looming the chair will be out of it because they are already in the head's confidence. Then you need 3 governors to hear the case. Then another 3 to hear the appeal. Preferably none of these are staff governors. So you are already up to 7 before someone gets ill, someone else is working away on business and someone else knows the staff member involved. Oh and you have 2 vacancies on the GB. That takes you up to 12... I'd say about 12-14 places was workable if you want to have places for staff governors (and it is a good idea in theory). But you don't need more than 15 which some schools seem to have. Occasional attenders are a nuisance.

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 21-Apr-14 09:32:26

You don't have to be interested in education to be concerned about this.

Can't see anything wrong with the appointment. Why do you think hard line Muslims are trying to take over the schools if not to create more hard line fundamentalists?

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 21-Apr-14 09:34:39

This sounds like something that needs dealing with by people other than the police.

Aka Mon 21-Apr-14 13:08:35

Amazing how schools managed before governors and boards became so powerful.

JessM Mon 21-Apr-14 13:57:46

Jings there are areas of Birmingham that appear to be predominantly Muslim. The same applies in many other cities. My cousin's son grew up in E London and he was the only white boy in his class.
It would be surprising and disappointing if members of the Muslim community did not come forward to be governors in those schools. This anonymous letter could well be just a bit of malicious stirring but it has become a major issue with everyone and his dog investigating. All the schools have had an unscheduled ofsted and the head of ofsted himself is swanning in to oversee their final judgements! I detect a whiff of headline grabbing. It is perfectly possible that this is a storm in a teacup.
I have dealt with a nasty anonymous letter sent to Ofsted - it alleged all kinds of things including some about the head, none of which were true. It was extremely hard to investigate because the origin was not clear. (was it a parent complaint? A staff grievance etc - procedures apply for all of these and help people do deal with them fairly). We suspected that it originated from the partner of a staff member who was basing letter on moans at the end of a long day.

Aka Mon 21-Apr-14 14:41:33

As I understood it there was allegedly a move afoot to oust non
- Muslim Headteachers. At least that's how it was being reported on local TV ie Midlands Today. If that is the case then it takes on a more sinister aspect. I think I'll wait until the investigations are completed though before jumping to either way.

Ana Mon 21-Apr-14 14:51:59

Yes. I think there's far more to it than just one anonymous letter.

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 21-Apr-14 15:40:08

Jess - there are Muslims, and then there are the hard line extremists. I thinkit's the latter we need to worry about.'

JessM Mon 21-Apr-14 17:58:11

Well quite, jings but no suggestion of terrorism here until Gove sent someone who was an expert in terrorism to do his own investigation.
ana we shall see when we have had all the reports from all the various investigators. Wouldn't it be interesting if they didn't agree. I take a sceptical view of anonymous letters myself. They lob a grenade but don't have the courage to come forward and explain themselves.
aka there have been school governors for a long time. Longer than I have been alive I think. At one time they were all local councillors or the friends of local councillors but that is long gone.
They have been given more responsibility over the years and in many schools (it depends on type of school...) they are the ultimate employer. Without governors there is no-one to oversee the performance of the head teacher, nobody to act as a court of appeal if the head acts unfairly, and no-one to actually interview and employ a new head.
The most important thing most governing bodies do is interview and select a new head. Not easy in these times when there are few applicants. A friend of mine is a governor of an outstanding primary in a pleasant area. Only 2 applicants for headship and neither of them were deemed up to scratch.
The single biggest responsibility that I had, potentially, as a chair of governors was that if someone made a serious complaint about the head, I would have to suspend him on full pay, staying within the procedures laid down in the school disciplinary procedures etc
Twice as a governor I had to sit on a panel of governors which sacked a teacher. Not nice. It's a very serious responsibility and there is no compulsory training whatsoever.

Iam64 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:36:40

The fact there isn't any compulsory training, or ongoing outside support for GB's seems ridiculous when you consider the responsibility they carry.

My view is it seems highly unlikely such an investigation is being set up on the basis of a random anonymous letter. I am no fan of Michael Gove, but is it likely he appointed the ex head of counter terrorism without considering the sensitive nature of the allegations. It is becoming common for people who have held senior management positions to work in areas, other than the one they specialised in previously.

I don't feel I know enough about the individual concerned, or about the allegations to decide whether this is a bad appointment. I hope they've chosen someone with the professional and personal skills to conduct a thorough, balanced and fair investigation.

Lilygran Mon 21-Apr-14 19:02:19

There used to be extensive training and on-going support for the volunteers who serve on GBs. Now all dismantled like any formal links into the local community. Why is Gove afraid of local democracy and parent power?

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 21-Apr-14 19:39:55

Are you sure you are n't being a bit naive here Jess? I don't think these people are interested in running the Xmas fair.

Penstemmon Mon 21-Apr-14 19:51:23

Actually I and my DH deliver some training for governors. It seems it is one area where funding is still just about in tact! However it is true that as it is a voluntary post there does not appear to be a compulsory training expectation. It is hard enough to find the right calibre of governor so maybe powers that be think compulsory training would put them off.

Re the situation in Birmingham, which is very unclear, was there any suggestions other than the schools were being run on 'traditional' Islamic lines? There is a difference between traditional and fundamental/extreme. Not that I would necessarily support all traditional approaches either! However there are single sex schools and other religious groups that segregate women and define their role /clothes so 'traditional' attitudes are not confined to Islam.

If there was a clear steer that brainwashing / recruitment to terrorist organisations was going on then I understand why Gove ( and I am no fan of his) chose the course of action. If however that is just an assumption then the man has made an error of judgement and a different approach was needed.

Aka Mon 21-Apr-14 21:49:48

Jess I don't need a lecture about school governors. I know all about them thanks. Phew!

Aka Mon 21-Apr-14 21:52:17

Pennstemon I see you didn't read my earlier post. Being run on 'Islamic lines' traditional or otherwise is no bathe issue.

Aka Mon 21-Apr-14 21:52:29

Not the issue...

JessM Mon 21-Apr-14 21:55:39

jingle I think you need to be a bit careful "these people" - who exactly are you having go at?
Iam64 West Midlands Police sounded a bit put out that Gove is not trusting them (and Ofsted) to investigate and that they thought his choice was tactless in the extreme.

Ana Mon 21-Apr-14 22:00:20

Aka, this thread is obviously just another 'how awful is Gove?' thread.
No point asking anyone to actually address the real issue concerning a lot of us.

jinglbellsfrocks Mon 21-Apr-14 22:06:43

Jess I am "having a go at" muslim extremists. I would not like to see them in control of our schools, or anything else in this country.