Muslim Council of Britain rejects the truth of Trojan horse report

Jul 24, 2014 by

Religious body insists that claims that Islamists were plotting to take over Birmingham schools are ‘patently absurd’

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned education authorities “not to be sidetracked by culture wars initiated by divisive commentators”, as it rejected many of the findings of a government-commissioned report that found a co-ordinated effort by extreme Muslims to take over some Birmingham schools.

The MCB said the report, written by Peter Clarke, the former Met counter-terror chief, was guilty of “conflating conservative Muslim practices to a supposed ideology and agenda to Islamise secular schools”.

Clarke’s report highlighted a pamphlet published by the MCB in 2007 and co-authored by the former chairman of Park View Educational Trust, Tahir Alam, one of the figures most criticised in the recent raft of government reports. The report alleged that the pamphlet set out a blueprint for the takeover of schools by Muslims.

Alam retaliated early on Wednesday by claiming that Clarke had not even visited some of the schools mentioned in his report. In an interview on Radio 4, he said the Clarke report was “commissioned as part of a campaign, really, an offensive against our school, which was politically motivated”.

The MCB said the pamphlet was “under routine review” and was always aimed at being advisory in nature, helping schools engage with Muslim parents. It added it was “patently absurd” to suggest the MCB was part of a movement to take over schools or promote a “particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam that raises concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future”.

According to a confidential copy of the contract between Clarke and the Department of Education, the former anti-terror chief was paid a fixed daily rate of £550 to conduct the investigation, amounting to a total of £36,300. The contract leaked to the Guardian showed that Clarke insisted he was indemnified against any legal action against him arising from the report, so long as he was not grossly negligent.

It says the report must be authored by Clarke, “with the draft mutually agreed with the department”.

The MCB intervention came as the influential Sutton Trust urged the new education secretary, Nicky Morgan, to give the schools inspectorate Ofsted powers to inspect academy chains.

Morgan’s predecessor, Michael Gove, had opposed giving Ofsted powers to inspect chains as opposed to individual schools, but Morgan has said she wants to look at the issue afresh. Some of the most controversial schools in Birmingham were run by chains. More than half of all academies are now part of academy chains, with the largest managing upwards of 70 schools.

The Sutton Trust found that in nine of the 31 chains, disadvantaged students in sponsored academies outperformed the average for those in mainstream schools in 2013. Of these, the best performers based on the proportion of disadvantaged pupils gaining five good GCSEs or equivalent are:

• The Harris Federation, which now has 27 academies and free schools, mainly in South London.

•The City of London Corporation, with three academies around the capital.

• Barnfield Education Partnership, a Luton-based chain linked to a further education college.

•Mercers’ Company, a  City-based livery company which has three academies, two of which are also linked to the successful Thomas Telford City technology college in the West Midlands.

• ARK Schools, a chain that now has 27 academies in London, the south-east and Birmingham.

But the report also warns that there are some chains that are highly ineffective across a range of measures, and which are failing to improve the prospects of their disadvantaged pupils. As a result, it says, Ofsted should be empowered to inspect the chains. “Such a move would be reassuring to parents, and ensure independent scrutiny. We also share the Academy Commission’s concern that seven years is too long for unsuccessful sponsors to be left with a school if improvement cannot be demonstrated.”

via Muslim Council of Britain rejects findings of Trojan horse report | Education |

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