Category Archives: Sarah Beresford

Trojan Horses in Birmingham; the Banning of Religion in Schools and Education

Dr Sarah Beresford

Tuesday 10th June saw the publication Ofsted’s much awaited report into 21 Birmingham schools in the so called leaked ‘Trojan horse’ letter which alleged a planned takeover of schools by Islamist extremists. One of the schools investigated was Park View Academy. Ofsted’s report found that the recruitment and promotion of staff at Parkview was unfair and opaque; students were not prepared adequately for life in a multicultural society; and there were few opportunities to learn about non-Muslim beliefs, nor adequate citizenship lessons or Sex and Relationships Education. This blog argues that this recent controversy is representative of a deeper problem than so-called ‘muslim take over plots’ or ‘Faith schools’. The issue is of the place of religion and religiosity in schools and in the curriculum. The issue has caused a public row between two senior coalition ministers with the Home Secretary Theresa May accusing the Education Secretary Michael Gove, of failing to deal with an alleged Islamist plot to take over schools. The issue goes deeper than a discussion on Faith schools (Park View is not a Faith school. If this amount of religious indoctrination can take place in a school which is not a faith school, what amount of indoctrination is taking place at faith schools?).

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Queer Theory and the Age of Consent

Dr Sarah Beresford comments upon the recent calls for a lowering of the age of consent.  Towards the end of 2013, the topic of changing the age of consent in England and Wales was much in the news.  She suggests that much of the debate has focused expressly or impliedly on the age of which men and boys have sexual intercourse (whether gay or straight). Those who argue for a reduction in the age of consent use (whether knowingly or not) a queer theory approach to the issue.  Queer theory, originally intended to be a liberating phenomenon, has in fact become synonymous with white gay men. Consequently, the debate on the age of consent has ignored or given insufficient attention to the effect(s) a lowering of the age of consent will have on girls and women.

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