Why Tories messed up in attack on Islamic school

Why Conservatives failed the test on Islamic schools - Education News, Education - The Independent

It appears that the Tories overlooked a number of things while criticising state funding for two schools supposedly linked to Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Slough and north London:

The most obvious mistake was the allegation that they appeared not to have been registered or inspected.

In fact, one of the two schools – in Slough, Berkshire – had posted a glowing commendation from Ofsted on its website. The report was easily accessible by Googling the Islamic Shakhsiyah Foundation, and its veracity could be confirmed with Ofsted.

It praised the school for its “broad and balanced curriculum” and for its commitment to the “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development” of its 55 four- to 10-year-old pupils.

The second error, over the allegation that state finance from a fund designed to combat terrorism was being channelled into an extremist school dedicated to the overthrow of Western culture, was perhaps more serious.

The waters here were slightly muddier, although the Conservatives were mistaken again. Money from a government fund was paid to both schools – the second is in Haringey, north London – but the £113,000 concerned came from a fund designed to promote nursery education and distributed by local councils; the fund just happened to have the same name, Pathfinder, as the anti-terrorist fund.

As for the links with HT, the head teacher of the Slough school said she was not a member, while the proprietor, whose husband is a member, has resigned as a trustee. Of course, a “member” of HT is not just an ordinary activist; you don’t become a member until you have been known to them for a long time. However, the measure of such a school shouldn’t be whether the school’s board of governors has one or two members of HT on it, but who they employ and what they teach.

However, the reason the Tories put their foot in it on this issue isn’t really explained in that article. The reason seems to be that they saw an opportunity to attack HT, or a group of Muslims with views too radical for their liking, and took it without letting the facts get in the way.

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