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Statement re Golden Hillock Academy

Golden Hillock Academy is in my constituency. To me it is very important that there are no secrets in any UK schools. Schools also need to provide a broad British education. I am unhappy with Tristram Hunt pointing the finger of Muslim Extremism at the Head of Golden Hillock and the Chair of Governors at Golden Hillock.

The Head happens to be a Sikh. Tristram Hunt may not understand this, but Sikhs are not Muslims. The Chair of Governors (Mohammed Shafique) is someone I have known for over 15 years. He is not an extremist. He has at times been and may still be the Chairman of the Sparkbrook Ward Labour Party. [Sparkbrook is the ward on the other side of Golden Hillock Road outside my constituency.]

It is difficult commenting on leaked reports particularly as I don't have a copy of the report. I did ask the school to tell the staff body that they had legal protection in talking to the local MP as I was told some staff members were frightened to talk to me. The school did do that and also placed a copy of a briefing from the House of Commons Library in the Staff Room. I have communicated with some of the staff.

There have been questions raised about management styles, but this is not unusual in any employment situation and that does not justify the finger pointing about extremism.

The allegations made (about a number of schools not just Golden Hillock) have been tarring a large number of people with the same brush of extremism. We need to look at any allegations calmly and consider the details. There are things that have happened (such as the downgrading of Christmas and other festivals - not at Golden Hillock as far as I know) that I am unhappy about. However, national politicians such as Tristram Hunt should try engaging brain before opening mouth. It does help.

I would be surprised if any number of schools have an "anti extremism policy". It goes without being said really. If Golden Hillock are to be failed for this reason then the same rule should be applied to all other schools.

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