You Couldn’t Make It Up… unless you’re Richard Littlejohn

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the statement “Richard Littlejohn is liar” is closer to being a tautology than an observation but even by his usual pitiful standards his contribution to the burgeoning debate surrounding recent events in a number of Birmingham schools stands out as masterpiece of bullshit and utter fabrication:

Amid all the furore about Islamist infiltration of schools in Birmingham, another story involving the education watchdog Ofsted has received rather less attention.

Inspectors have criticised a rural school in Devon for being insufficiently ‘diverse’. Although they concede that Payhembury Primary is a ‘happy place’, it has been denied an ‘outstanding’ rating because all 68 pupils are of ‘white British heritage’.

Well, they would be. Small villages in Devon tend not to be melting pots of multiculturalism. In fact, outside the big cities, most people in Britain are of ‘white British heritage’ even though the mass immigration of the past 15 years is changing that demographic rapidly.

One very good reason why this particular “story” has received rather less attention, which Littlejohn omits to mention, is the fact that Ofsted inspection to which he’s referring was carried out in March 2010 – here, you can read it for yourself if you like, a facility that the Mail (of course) doesn’t extend to it’s own readers so as not to disturb their illusions with the realisation that they’re being lied to. In fact, the school has since undergone a brief interim assessment, in January 2013, at which point Ofsted decided it was doing well enough to justify pushing back its next full inspection to at least the summer of 2014 and it now seems likely that the school won’t be inspected again until at least the autumn, if not early next year.

Yes, the March 2010 inspection does make the observation that in order to improve further the school should:

– Improve pupil’s awareness and understanding of life in a multicultural society, developing the school’s satisfactory contribution to community cohesion by improving links in contrasting parts of the United Kingdom and abroad.

But if you read the actual report you’ll also so that this was by no means the only reason why the school wasn’t given a rating of ‘outstanding’ rating. Of the 21 criteria and sub criteria on which the school’s performance was assessed it was given an outstanding rating in only three areas; pupil behaviour and the effectiveness of its leadership in driving improvement and in managing teaching and learning. It got a satisfactory rating for promoting community cohesion, hence the inspector’s recommendation noted above, while on the other 17 criteria it was rated “good”, which is why the report also noted that the school needed to:

– Ensure that recent improvements in the attainment and progress of pupils at the end of year 2 are consolidated, with all pupils consistently doing their best.

So it’s a good school which was found to be in need of a little more work in a few areas but which Ofsted felt was heading in exactly the right direction.

Anyway, Littlejohn continues by noting that:

Parents have been told that they must pay £35 to send their children on a ‘sleep-over’ at a school in Isleworth, West London, where three-quarters of pupils are from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Headteacher Penny Hammett wrote: ‘The purpose of this trip is to build up a relationship with a school in a very different community to ours. This will enable our children to gain a better understanding of multicultural Britain, which was identified in our last Ofsted as being an area for development.

‘Through our topics, visitors and discussions we have been developing multicultural awareness in both Britain and throughout the world, but this visit will help us to experience in real life a school where there is a wide mix of children with different ethnic backgrounds and almost 50 per cent of the children do not have English as their first language.’

Knowing how most schools operate, parents will have been asked to pay £35 towards the cost of the 2 day visit to Isleworth but it was also have provision in place to either subsidise or completely cover the cost for any parents who are a low income and who genuine cannot afford to pay. That’s standard practice in almost all state schools, especially primary schools.

It’s also apparent that this is the latest in a series of different activities designed to give children attending the school a chance to see the world outside their own local, rural, neighbourhood. Indeed Littlejohn goes on to quote the chair of the school’s governers, Rev Cate Edmonds, as stating that:

 ‘We are fairly mono-cultural as an area in Devon and we don’t want children growing up thinking the whole world is full of trees and cows.’

All of which seems sensible but, as always, the Mail has found a dissenting voice amongst the local parents:

But one mother objected: ‘I’m astounded by this idea. Just because the children go to a small school in the country does not mean they aren’t aware of people with different-coloured skin to them. It’s very patronising — and for the school they are visiting, too.’

I think the mere fact that this parent uses the phrase “people with different-coloured skin” provides fairly solid evidence for utility of this particular visit. Merely being aware of the existence of “people with different-coloured skin” is not the same as meeting them in person and getting to know them – if it was then idiot parents living in rural Devon wouldn’t be using terms like “people with different-coloured skin”.

Now if you’re at all familiar with Littlejohn’s febrile musing then it’s just about you’ll be expecting the obligatory “I’m not racist, but…” section, and he’s nothing if not a creature of [vile] habit:

Let me make it absolutely clear before the usual excitable suspects start bouncing up and down screaming ‘racism’ that it’s commendable for kids to learn about different cultures.

Exchange visits for schoolchildren have been going on since the Sixties, initially introduced to help them develop their foreign language skills.

I’m fortunate to live in a part of North London where friends and neighbours from all kinds of ethnic and religious backgrounds rub along well together.

Even 25 years ago, my children’s school photo looked as if it had been plucked straight from the pages of a United Colors of Benetton catalogue. But I despise the officially sanctioned cult of separate development masquerading as multiculturalism.

Sorry… he’s fortunate to live where exactly…?

Littlejohn’s Britain doesn’t exist. Literally. He spends much of the year writing from a gated mansion in Florida, and admitted in a recent column that, when he is in Britain, he rarely leaves the house. He is describing a country he sees only through the pages of the right-wing press and his self-reinforcing mailbag. The cumulative effect of poring through more than 300 pages of this isn’t to make the reader feel angry, or indignant, or offended. It is to feel pity for a sad, lonely little man, howling at a world that exists only in his own pornographic imagination.

Okay, so that’s from a book review written by Johann Hari and published by the New Statesman way back in 2007 and Hari has subsequently had his own… err… factual issues but it nevertheless remains the case that Littlejohn is ordinarily resident in a ‘mini mansion’ in Vero Beach, Florida where, according to the 2010 US Census, white folks make up 87.5% of the local population.

But I digress because there’s more blatant misrepresentation to come:

Just as it is appalling that Muslim children in the Midlands are being taught that all white women are prostitutes and Western values are dangerous, so it is only right and proper that pupils growing up in the Devon countryside are made aware of the wider world outside their immediate vicinity.

Okay, we have a reference here to an allegation noted in the newly published Education Funding Agency review of Oldknow Academy, which is one of the Birmingham schools that has this week place placed into special measure by Ofsted, and this is what the actual EFA report says:

35. We were told by teachers that non-Muslim staff are no longer allowed to take Friday assemblies, which only Muslim
teachers can lead. In separate interviews staff told us that during Friday assembly occasionally words have been used such as “white prostitute” which they felt were inappropriate for young children.

Okay, strictly speaking what we have here is hearsay but even so all that the EFA notes is that the words “white prostitute” have allegedly been used on occasion during these Friday assemblies with a question mark against whether this is appropriate language to be using in a primary school.

What this, of course, doesn’t say is that children at the school are being taught that all white women are prostitutes. Littlejohn, and indeed The Daily Mail which made the same claim a couple of days ago on the back of a leaked copy of the same report, have blatantly fabricated that allegation without any more idea of the context in which the term was allegedly used than appears in the quote above.

What neither the Mail’s own journalists (who one would assume are based in London) nor Littlejohn (who of course lives in Florida for most of the year) would be aware of, due to the abject lack of local knowledge and disdain for carrying out even the most basic background research, just in case it might conflict with their preferred narrative and limit their scope for pandering to a racist audience, is that the Oldknow Academy site is less than half-a-mile from Small Heath Park and the old part of the Coventry Road – which used to be part of the A45 until the construction of the Small Heath Highway – and that this is an area which is well known, locally, for having issues with on-street prostitution and kerb-crawling.

Only last year, local Labour MP Shabana Mahmood organised a “summit meeting” at Bordesley Green Girl’s School, which is about a mile-and-a-half away from the Academy on the opposite side of the Coventry Road, to try and address longstanding problems which have been affecting the local community, and as she notes on her own website…

The main issues raised by constituents and discussed at length were crime (particularly drug dealing and prostitution), match day parking [for Birmingham City FC] , derelict land and litter.

One you know the local context then what we have here is a serious question about the content of the EFA report and what appears to be a failure by the agency to adequately investigate and establish the actual context in which, so its claimed, the term “white prostitute” was used during a school assembly, because it is, of course, quite conceivable that was was being issued to children was a warning about problems occurring in and around the local park, even if the language in which that warning was issued would seem to be extremely questionable given the age group we’re dealing with here.

As things stand, it appears that the EFA either didn’t bother to establish the context in which this alleged remark was made or it did but failed to incorporate this information into its report, neither of which is acceptable practice, and were I a local politician I’d certainly be contacting the organisation for further clarification of this part of the report.

Anyway, back to the bullshit…

No, what bothers me about all this is the language being used and the element of compulsion — as well as the frankly sinister revelation that a school can be marked down by Ofsted not because of the standard of education it provides but because there are too few black and brown faces in the playground.

Why should a school be penalised because its pupils are from a ‘white British heritage’ background?

Except, of course, that we’ve already seen the claim that the school failed to get an outstanding rating because of the one item (out of 21 on which it was assessed) is an outright lie and the fact that Ofsted suggested that this was an area that the school could improve has nothing whatsoever to do with the number of “black and brown faces in the playground”; in fact, if the events of this last week have proved anything it’s that having too many “brown faces” in the playground can be much of a liability.

The school was rating as “good” – as is entirely clear from it’s inspection report – because that is the standard of education it was found to be providing when it was inspected four years ago.

And with that observation I’ll leave it there, not because there aren’t several more paragraphs of utter bullshit that I could pick to piece but simply because I’ve already more than adequately demonstrated that the fundamental premise on which Littlejohn’s entire piece is based is nothing more nor less than an outright fabrication.

Nevertheless I should note that Littlejohn, being of course a creature of [vile] habit, manages to include his signature line toward the end of the article:

You couldn’t make it up.

But, as usual, Littlejohn has made it up.