Up to 1,000 people jammed into the launch rally of Putting Birmingham Schoolkids First last night, Thursday, at the Bordesley Centre in Camp Hill. So many people came that organisers had to set up an overflow hall. The meeting was a response to the attacks on
The meeting was chaired by former Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob. She told the audience the campaign would push to improve
Shabina Bano, who set up the Oldknow Primary School Parents’ Association, said kids who had attended Oldknow were already being bullied in their secondary school, and being asked how to make bombs.
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary of the NUT, set the tone for the meeting when he said he believed in calling things for what they are. He said that when you introduce extremism and radicalisation into a debate about schools, and appoint the former head of counter-terrorism to investigate schools, as Gove did, then what you are is Islamophobic.
Councillor Barry Henley described himself as a “middle aged, middle class, boring, white man” and said the Telegraph newspaper had called him an “Islamic fanatic” because he approved the requests from Muslim-majority schools to exempt them from the requirement to hold a daily Christian act of worship. As soon as he read the “Trojan Horse” letter which sparked the controversy about
Labour MP Shabana Mahmood said she went to school at
A number of other parents spoke and Sir Tim Brighouse, former Chief Commissioner for Schools, gave a video message to the meeting. He described what had happened in the schools as a “tragedy”.
Doug Morgan from Birmingham NUT said, “The one extremist book I wouldn’t want to see in schools is Michael Gove’s anti-Muslim tract Celsius 7/7.” He invited parents to join the teachers’ strike rally in
There was a real sense of the whole community coming together, black and white. Irish residents there alongside Muslim parents, and reverend Andy Smith from