The authorities have to take numerous hoax bomb threats which have paralysed schools in the city seriously, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said.
Mrs Morgan said the Department for Education was working with police to try to find out who was behind the threats and admitted she was worried about the impact they were having on pupils’ education.
Six more bomb threats were made to West Midlands schools on Monday in a series of hoaxes.
Fourteen schools and academies around Birmingham and the Black Country were evacuated last Thursday. A further six hoax calls were made three days earlier and another six schools were sent home the previous week.
Mrs Morgan said: “What these people seem to want, these hoaxers, is attention. What we don’t want to do is give the perpetrators lots of publicity.
“We always take every incident seriously. Schools have emergency procedures in place.
“We are working with the police and want the police to find who is doing this. The last thing we want is attendance to be disrupted.”
Even missing half a day of school could damage a child’s education, she said.
Mrs Morgan also said the Government was paying more attention to the problem of unregistered schools – after school inspectorate Ofsted last year found three Birmingham schools teaching a narrow Islamic curriculum had “anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic” texts, some in “filthy” conditions.
Mrs Morgan said: “Five years ago if you’d asked the Secretary of State for Education what is one of your tasks going to be, dealing with extremism and radicalisation wouldn’t have been up there on the top list of skills required.
“I think we are now being much more focused on what is happening outside schools.
“It is not just about what they are learning. It is also about the conditions they are in.
“The ones Ofsted identified and we shut down in Birmingham had some really unsanitary conditions, dangerous conditions for young people. As a country we haven’t talked about a lot of this. We have allowed things to happen.”
And she defended the announcement from school inspectors Ofsted that inspectors would be free to mark down schools where pupils or teachers wore face veils.
“From my conversations with headteachers and talking to people about how you teach young people, young children particularly, in terms of the reading and speaking, children will look very much at mouths and how they work.
“As a country we have kind of flunked having these conversations about things like values and everything else, including things like the wearing of the face veil, for a long time. And now we are having to have these conversations, And I think it is the right thing to do.”