In her first policy announcement, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has outlined plans to protect young children from extremism, following the ‘Trojan horse’ scandal in Birmingham’s schools.
Local authorities will have to use new powers to strip nurseries of their funding if they are used to “promote extremist views”, the BBC reports.
Nicky Morgan also announced that toddlers should be taught “fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way” to protect them from religious radicals. Teaching such young children these values is likely to include learning right from wrong, learning to take turns and share, and “challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes”.
The announcement follows the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by Islamist radicals to take over some state schools in Birmingham. It involved primary and secondary schools, but this is the first warning that children as young as two might need protection.
Although at the moment no individual nurseries are believed to be at risk, the government fears that loopholes leave councils feeling powerless to cut off funding for nurseries they are concerned about. “After Birmingham, we feel it is important to be proactive,” a source said.
Following a consultation in September, the rules will come into force in the New Year. Ofsted will use new guidelines when it inspects nurseries.
The NUT’s Kevin Courtney commented: “It is disappointing that it is the notion of extremism which is the subject of the first major announcement of the new Secretary of State. Early years and school staff already teach children right from wrong”, he said. “Asking Ofsted to inspect how well nurseries are teaching “fundamental British values” does not appear to offer anything new for children and will concern all those who seek to promote community engagement.”
Do you think the new Education Secretary is right to warn about extremism in nurseries and that children as young as two need to be taught “fundamental British values”?