Trojan report claims ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’

Jul 22, 2014 by

An “aggressive Islamist agenda” was being pursued in some of the so-called Trojan horse schools in Birmingham, says a Department for Education report.

Peter Clarke, a former counter-terror chief, is publishing the findings of his inquiry into allegations of a hardline Muslim “take-over” of schools.

Mr Clarke found a lack of intervention from the local council and weaknesses in the oversight of academies.

He said the council viewed the issue from the “prism of community cohesion”.

Mr Clarke has delivered the findings of a report commissioned by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove. His successor, Nicky Morgan, presented the results of the investigation to the House of Commons.

The education secretary warned that a fear of being accused of racism and Islamophobia had allowed a “small number of people with a shared ideology” to take over schools.

Ms Morgan announced there would be an education commissioner for Birmingham – and there would be a wider inquiry into the governance of schools in the city, which would report later in the year.

Teachers in the schools could face misconduct charges, she told MPs.

Much of the report had already been leaked – and representatives of schools facing allegations claimed they had faced a “co-ordinated and vicious” attack from the government.

‘Governing bodies’

The inquiry found no evidence of extremism, said Mr Clarke, but “there are a number of people in a position of influence who either espouse, or sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views”.

“I have established that there is a group of associated individuals in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies who have, over quite a considerable time, looked to introduce what could be described as an aggressive Islamist agenda into some schools, very few schools, in Birmingham,” Mr Clarke told the BBC.

Peter Clarke: “It’s quite clear that Birmingham City Council at least knew or suspected that these sort of things were happening”

“The report gives a description of a number of practices that really have no place in state, non-faith schools. There’s clearly been a wish to introduce what has been described as a conservative religious agenda into those schools.

“There is a group of people of like mind, who are well known to each other, who have been working together for a number of years – and they have deliberately sought to bring those practices into the schools.”

As an example, the report highlights a social media group called the “Park View Brotherhood” used by senior staff at Park View School.

Mr Clarke said this included “grossly intolerant” messages, “explicit homophobia; highly offensive comments about British service personnel; a stated ambition to increase segregation in the school; disparagement of strands of Islam; scepticism about the truth of reports of the murder of Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings; and a constant undercurrent of anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment”.

The report raises concerns about the lack of intervention by the local council, which he says was too sensitive to “community cohesion”.

“It’s quite clear that Birmingham City Council either knew or suspected that these things were happening for a considerable period of time, but didn’t do enough to stop it,” said Mr Clarke.

He also warned that there needed to be a review of the accountability of academies. These are autonomous state schools – and are now the most typical secondary school – but he highlighted concerns about a lack of oversight.

Anonymous letter

This is the latest in a series of reports triggered by an anonymous and unverified letter which claimed that there was a “Trojan horse” conspiracy to take over governing bodies and create a school culture more sympathetic to their hardline Muslim religious ethos.

Mr Clarke’s investigation says the significant question was not whether this was a “genuine” letter, but whether “the events and behaviours described have actually happened”.

Continue reading the main story

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It quickly became apparent to me that although there are some factual inaccuracies in the letter, there is also a great deal that is true, some of which had not previously been in the public domain”

Peter Clarke on the authenticity of the Trojan horse letter

“It quickly became apparent to me that although there are some factual inaccuracies in the letter, there is also a great deal that is true, some of which had not previously been in the public domain,” says Mr Clarke’s report.

His inquiry found evidence that concerns had already been raised, including an internal council email about claims that head teachers had been “hounded out… as a result of organised community action focused on a group of Muslim governors”.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw, delivering his own findings last month, said there had been a “culture of fear and intimidation” in which head teachers had been undermined by governing bodies. He later told MPs that head teachers had described how they had been bullied by governors wanting to intervene in the day to day running of the school.

Inspectors had carried out a wave of inspections in Birmingham, with five schools being put into special measures.

Birmingham City Council’s inquiry had found “no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation in schools”.

But the council’s report said that the patterns outlined to destabilise schools in the “Trojan horse” was letter “present in a large number of the schools considered part of the investigation”.

via BBC News – Trojan report claims ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’.

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