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Wednesday 23 July 2014

Toby Young’s Trojan Horse Excuse

Over at the bear pit that is Telegraph blogs, the loathsome Toby Young is taking yet more time away from his day job – being CEO of the West London Free School (WLFS) – to let the world know that, despite the removal of his hero Michael “Oiky” Gove from the helm at the Department for Education (DfE), he is the go-to expert on all matters educational, whatever the subject.
The view from the Weinbunker

The Trojan Horse plot is an indictment of local education authorities, not academieshe asserts grandly today, still assuming that anonymous letter alleging a plot was rather more genuine than has been concluded. “The argument is that if you allow taxpayer-funded schools to break free of local authority control, it's inevitable that some of them will be taken over by extremists” he postulates.

And so he walks straight into a false assumption: religious conservatism is not “extremism”. One might have hoped that someone who runs a school with an intake from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds might be a little more steady on the hyperbolic tiller. But, as Clive James might have said, I digress. Tobes is on a mission, however dishonest, to smear local authorities.

The school at the centre of the plot, Park View, only converted to academy status last year” he asserts. April 1, 2012, was not last year, Tobes. So when he says “the Islamist infiltration of Park View and other schools was brought to the attention of the local authority two years ago, when the schools were still Birmingham City Council's responsibility, and officers did nothing”, there is a good reason for it.

The school concerned was not Birmingham City Council’s responsibility, so there was nothing officers could do – not directly, at any rate. And when Tobes tells his readers “When the schools became academies, by contrast, and became directly accountable to the Secretary of State for Education, the plot was investigated and action was taken”, this too is bunk. Gove did stuff all for two years.

In fact, the DfE was told four years ago. Remember “How did it come to pass, for example, that one of the governors at Park View was the chairman of the education committee of the Muslim Council of Britain? Is it true that Birmingham city council was warned about these allegations in 2008? Is it true that the Department for Education was warned in 2010? If so, why did nobody act?” Theresa May’s letter?

One might have expected Tobes to remember that, being part of the row that told Young Dave that he would have to demote Gove. Yes, Gove’s department was warned about potential religious conservatism being applied in some schools four years ago, and it did precisely nothing. Tobes telling fibs will not help matters. And, in any case, his latest post is just a re-hash of one from last month.

I do hope WLFS pupils don’t get to read his stuff. It would set a terrible example.

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