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Emergency powers announced to close schools with links to extremism

Ministers will adopt new emergency powers to shut schools with links to extremism or where there are serious child safeguarding concerns in the aftermath of the alleged Trojan Horse plot.

The measures were announced today by schools minister Lord Nash as part of plans to promote "British values" in the classroom, following accusations that hard-line conservative Muslims had tried to take over a number of schools in Birmingham.

In a letter, Lord Nash said the new powers would allow the government to close or “impose restrictions” on academies and free schools as well as private schools where there are “serious safeguarding concerns”. Ofsted is due to bring in similar requirements for state-maintained schools later this year.

Schools will be able to appeal against the decision, but will not be able to remain open during the appeal process.

The proposals came as the government launched a consultation into plans to require schools to “actively promote” British values from this September.

The document states that schools will be expected to confront pupils, parents and staff who express extremist views and it warns a “minimum approach” to promoting the values will not be tolerated.

"For example putting up posters on a notice board and organising an occasional visit to places of worship would fall short of 'actively promoting',” the consultation paper states. "Schools will be expected to focus on, and be able to show how their work with pupils is effective in embedding fundamental British values."

Schools will be expected to strengthen spiritual, moral, social and cultural standards and to actively promote democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of other faiths.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Keeping our children safe and ensuring schools prepare them for life in modern Britain could not be more important.

“This change is an important step towards ensuring we have a strong legal basis for intervening in those schools where this is an issue. The vast majority of schools already promote British values – this is about making sure we have the tools we need to intervene if children are being let down."

Proposals for schools to "actively promote British values" were announced by education secretary Michael Gove earlier this month after it was confirmed that five Birmingham schools have been placed into special measures following inspections.

Related links: 

‘The only real plot in Park View was to improve education for Muslim children. It was a huge success’ - June 2014

Gove's 'British values' in schools is a 'knee-jerk' response, critics warn - June 2014

Trojan Horse: Five schools placed in special measures - June 2014

The curious incident of the Trojan Horse in the middle of Birmingham: Twenty questions to solve the mystery - June 2014

'Trojan Horse is a complex saga from which almost no one involved comes out well' - June 2014

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