'Trojan Horse' schools: Birmingham City Council tries to blame the Telegraph for revealing the scandal

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Birmingham council HQ

Birmingham City Council’s leader, Sir Albert Bore, today attacked the Telegraph for its “wholly reprehensible and completely unacceptable” publication of a leaked Department for Education report into three of the so-called “Trojan Horse” schools taken over by Muslim hardliners. This is what in the trade is called “deflection”: try to make the story about the leaking of the report, rather than the contents of it.

It’s not hard to understand why Sir Albert wants to change the subject. The contents of the leaked report – which substantiate many of the claims made against the schools – make his and his council’s past behaviour look rather silly.

Little more than a month ago, Sir Albert was calling the Trojan Horse allegations “defamatory” and saying that there were “no serious flaws” in Birmingham’s school management. Just over two weeks ago, his chief executive, Mark Rogers, said there was no plot, merely “new communities” raising “legitimate questions and challenges” to the “liberal education system.”

Within days, however, the council announced that it had frozen the recruitment of school governors and was setting up a six-month enquiry after receiving around 200 complaints from parents and teachers.

Sir Albert now announces that the council is setting up a whistleblowing hotline for parents and teachers, saying that it has “received information in respect of 25 schools.” He named 18 of them today – a list that accords almost exactly with that published in the Telegraph at the weekend. Nor, of course, has Sir Albert or anyone else denied the central charge of our story – that six of the schools on the list will be rated “inadequate” for leadership and governance (one already is), something which usually leads to special measures.

Let us hope, however, that Birmingham council is not merely preparing a more sophisticated form of whitewash. The members of its investigation include the headteacher of one of the 18 schools inspected and the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, who has attacked the publication of this story for “demonising sections of the local community.”

The members also include an as yet unnamed representative of the hardline Birmingham Central Mosque – the organisation which last month banned the BBC from asking on its premises whether it was all right to be Muslim and gay. Until his recent death, the mosque representative was to have been its chairman, Mohammad Naseem, who recently appeared to compare gay people to murderers and paedophiles.

The council has known about the Trojan Horse allegations for around six months – and known that something is wrong for a lot longer. It repeatedly ignored concerns raised in private. It only acted once the allegations got into the media. That, in short, is the value of disclosure.

The schools inspected so far are: Adderley, Alston, Golden Hillock, Gracelands, Highfield, Ladypool, Marlborough, Montgomery, Nansen, Ninestiles, Oldknow, Park View, Regents Park, Saltley, Small Heath, Washwood Heath, Waverley and Welford.

Read extracts from the leaked report here.

 

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'Trojan Horse' schools: the leaked inspectors' report

Here are extracts from the inspection report, leaked to the Telegraph, into three schools at the centre of the so-called “Trojan Horse” plot to “Islamise” secular state schools in Birmingham. The schools are Park View, Golden Hillock, and Nansen, all part of the Park View Educational Trust. This inspection was carried out by the Department for Education last month. Separate inspections were carried out by Ofsted, many of which, as we report today, are also damning.

As you will see, the report substantiates many of the claims which the schools have for the last six weeks been furiously denying as a “witch-hunt.”

The extracts confirm that

– there is compulsory “gender segregation” in classes at Park View and Golden Hillock, “often with boys sitting towards the front of the class and girls at the back or around the sides.” (page 17)

– The school has consistently claimed that any segregation was voluntary but as the report makes clear, in a number of classes “students told us that they were required to sit in the places which they were given by teachers” (page 17) and “teachers gave [students] seats in which to sit in class by gender to avoid having to mix” (p10)

– some non-Muslim pupils at Golden Hillock have to “teach themselves” in a GCSE subject (page 18)

– an “extremist” speaker “sympathetic to al-Qaeda” addressed students at Park View (page 16);

– there is no humanities, arts or music teaching at Nansen in Year 6 and only “limited” teaching of these subjects in Year 5 (page 17);

– the teaching of some GCSE subjects was “restricted to comply with a conservative Islamic teaching” (page 10);

– in biology, a teacher had “briefly delivered the theory of evolution to comply with the syllabus, but had told students ‘this is not what we believe;’’ that reproduction was not covered in class, even though pupils needed it for their GCSEs; that students believed “as Muslims they were not allowed to study matters such as reproduction with the opposite sex” (page 10).

Further extracts including more of the quotes used in our story on Saturday will be published later.

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Gove is right to fail schools for religious bias

Giving Ofsted powers to penalise extremist teaching can only benefit social cohesion (Photo: Rex)

Here are five words that liberals should say more often: thank God for Michael Gove. The Education Secretary has sent dozens of inspectors to 15 state schools in Birmingham targeted by Islamic radicals – and now, reportedly, plans to extend the idea nationwide, with new powers for Ofsted to fail schools where religious conservatism prevents balanced learning. He has acted because he knows what others have too long ignored: that schools are the key battleground against Islamism in Britain.

As poll after poll tells us, the vast majority of ordinary Muslims reject radical views. They support a mixed, plural society. They want to get on with their own lives, not interfere with anyone else’s. Successful Muslims, such as the new Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, are making their way to the top – defining themselves by their jobs, or their politics, or the football teams they support, and not (unless they want to) by the faith they were born into.

The problem is that the leading institutions of Muslim Britain are disproportionately dominated by the small minority of Islamists. They get all the publicity. They make all the noise. Sometimes publicly, sometimes only when they think no one’s looking, key mosques, charities, TV stations, schools and university societies promote a separatist, grievance-led agenda, in which Islam is the only identity that matters, in which Muslims stand against corrupt Western values and are victimised for doing so.

For those who think this way, schools are the front line – because they are how the hardliners hope, over time, to convert more British Muslims to their cause. And in a small but significant (and growing) number of schools, a new generation of students is being raised to be much more radical than its parents.

Of these, the worst are in the private sector – such as the schools where children study anti-Semitic textbooks, or the Madani Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, which forces all pupils to wear the full-face veil and has explicitly stated on its website that “we as Muslims oppose the lifestyle of the West”. The Association of Muslim Schools, the private schools’ trade organisation, has hosted extremist speakers at its annual conference.

Most Muslim children, however, go to state schools – so the hardliners’ efforts are moving there as well. In Birmingham, five non-Muslim head teachers in a tiny area of the city have left their posts in the past six months. Dozens of staff, former staff and parents at these supposedly secular schools have told me and others that extremist and anti-Christian views are preached at assemblies, that teaching has been Islamified and that secular heads have been hounded out.

Messages leaked to me revealed the existence of a group called Educational Activists, including many teachers and school governors, which pursues what its leader calls an “Islamising agenda” in Birmingham schools. At each of the schools concerned, links can be traced to the same small group of activists, and to the Association of Muslim Schools. The local council says it has received “hundreds” of complaints from teachers, governors and parents.

When confronted, those involved have four lines of defence. The first, inevitably, is that any criticism is an “Islamophobic witch-hunt”, which rather ignores the fact that many of those complaining are themselves Muslim parents who want a broad education for their children. Fortunately, such brazen attempts to play the race card have gained little traction.

The activists’ second defence is that they are merely seeking to improve “failing” schools. The problem, alas, is that most of the schools affected were graded “outstanding” or “good” by Ofsted. By contrast, the religious school that ties together most of the plotters has been graded “inadequate”.

It is also argued that any changes that have occurred simply reflect the dominant culture in these overwhelmingly Muslim-majority schools and Muslim-majority neighbourhoods. But if you live entirely among people of your own faith, it is even more important that you are exposed to other cultures at school, and that teachers from other backgrounds are not removed from your life.

Finally, it is sometimes said (not least on the BBC) that any extremist incidents that may have occurred were “isolated”. They weren’t – but even if they had been, can we seriously imagine that line being tenable if the position were reversed? Had there been even one teacher leading white children in anti-Muslim rhetoric, it would rightly be proclaimed a national scandal.

The same double standards used, until recently, to apply in official Britain. Many private Muslim schools have been allowed effectively to inspect themselves – using a private inspectorate co-controlled by the Association of Muslim Schools. In others, Ofsted seemed prepared to overlook bigotry, so long as the bigots were Muslim. At Madani, which openly expressed its hostility to the West, the Ofsted report claimed the school left its pupils “well-prepared for life in a multicultural society”.

Yet it is precisely because such an education leaves its pupils adrift in a multicultural society, prey to all sorts of dangerous influences, and with a negative view of their fellow citizens, that Islamist influence in schools is so desperately dangerous for social cohesion. And it is a profound relief that the authorities have finally recognised this. Let us hope that the work continues if and when Mr Gove moves on.