ALMOST a quarter of the population of Bradford is Muslim and the city is home to the largest proportion of people of Pakistani origin in the country.
So it is hardly surprising if the governing bodies of Bradford’s inner-city schools are made up of Muslims and if there is an Islamic flavour to the education there.
There is a difference, however, between reflecting the religious and cultural make-up of a school’s pupils and instigating an Islamist agenda which denigrates other religions, segregates girls and boys and is enforced by the intimidation of teachers, governors or parents who disagree with it.
The latter situation, of course, is said by Ofsted inspectors to be the case at several schools in Birmingham.
But as yet, it is far from clear whether such a situation is being repeated in Bradford.
At the very least, however, there is cause for concern following claims that Chris Robinson, a former head of Carlton Bolling College, was driven out of office because she would not accede to a greater Islamic ethos within the school, and the dismissal earlier this year of the entire governing body at another Bradford school, Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College.
Clearly, one of the reasons why the situation in Birmingham developed to the point where Ofsted had to launch an investigation is that too many people, including the city council, preferred to sweep the issue under the carpet rather than confront it head-on.
This must not be allowed to happen in Bradford. The city has languished for far too long in the lower echelons of education league tables while British Pakistani children have under-performed educationally for decades.
If there is a problem in the city’s schools akin to that in Birmingham, then – for the sake of all the city’s children – Bradford Council needs to acknowledge it and deal with it decisively.
A costly shake-up
NHS waste continues apace
IT IS impossible to put a figure on how much money has been spent in the National Health Service over recent decades in a constant series of reorganisations ironically aimed at achieving greater efficiency.
And while there is common agreement that the NHS is overburdened with expensive tiers of unnecessary senior management, it is hard not to feel at least a shred of sympathy for administrators who must deal with this state of permanent revolution.
There can be little surprise, then, that this Government’s latest health reforms, the biggest shake-up since the NHS was set up, resulted in hospitals in this region spending £40m more than expected on specialised care as confusion arose over how to calculate funding following the abolition of primary care trusts and the handover of their responsibilities to a new body, NHS England.
Considering that, across the country as a whole, this overspending amounted to nearly £400m, it is crucial that NHS England gets to the bottom of what exactly went wrong.
When it comes to evaluating the full effects of this latest health reorganisation, the jury is likely to be out for some time yet. But for such a major upheaval to have been worthwhile, it must show that the patient is getting a far more effective service for considerably less cost.
Otherwise, if the level of wasteful spending is seen to persist, if the growing crisis in primary care is not averted and if patients do not notice a tangible improvement, it will not only be NHS managers who are left in a state of confusion.
Summer holidays under threat
Few things are as sacrosanct to the average British family as the annual summer holiday and the fear, when applying for passports, that they will not return in time is a constant one.
It is hard, then, to credit the lack of foresight that seems to have affected Home Office thinking in allowing a situation where spending cuts have apparently resulted in a backlog of half-a-million applications and the real possibility that thousands of holidaymakers may miss their flights. Home Secretary Theresa May insists that officials are dealing with the highest level of applications in years, but such excuses will cut little ice with an increasingly desperate public.
The Government is supposedly acutely sensitive to the charge that it is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. But unless it gets to grips with this situation quickly, the consequent public outrage will leave it in no doubt as to the voters’ verdict on that one.