Trojan Horse row Q&A: What is the 'Muslim plot' all about – and why is it so important?
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Sunday 08 June 2014
Q: What is the Birmingham “Trojan Horse” investigation?
A: It stems from a letter purporting to outline “Operation Trojan Horse” whereby a group of fundamentalist Muslims were plotting a take-over of city schools. It is widely seen as a fake - but thought to come from someone who had an inkling of what was going on and wanted to draw attention of it.
Q: What action was taken on receipt of the document?
A: Several inquiries were set in motion. Ofsted, the school inspectorate, went into 21 schools where a takeover was taking place. Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed the former head of the anti-terrorist branch at the Metropolitan police Peter Clarke to carry out an inquiry. The Education Funding Agency - responsible for funding schools - has investigated the affair and Birmingham City Council is publishing a review of the situation next month. The West Midlands police is investigating the allegations, too.
Q: Where are we at now?
A: Ofsted is due to publish its 21 inspection reports on Monday. Six of the 21 schools are to be declared inadequate (one was already rated inadequate before the investigation started. Twelve are to be sent notices saying their governance requires improvement. Five of those to be declared inadequate are Golden Hillock, Park View and Nansen primary school - all academies and members of the Park View Education Trust, Oldknow - a primary school - and Saltley.
The Education Funding Agency will also publish its report - which is expected to find that, in the case of Oldknow, classrooms had been segregated with girls sitting behind boys. It records that anti-Christian chants were encouraged in Muslim-based assemblies and that Christmas events were cancelled while no Muslim pupils were not invited to join a school trip to Mecca. The school is said to be consulting lawyers over the report. The Ofsted report on Golden Hillock school said its pupils did not have enough protection from extremist views. The Park View Education Trust has rejected the findings on each of its schools - adding that the inspectors found no examples of extremist indoctrination at any of them.
Q: What will happen as a result of these inquiries?
A: Education Secretary Michael Gove is expected to make a statement on Monday afternoon dismissing the governing bodies of five schools being declared inadequate - and banning any governors involved in a plot to turn their school into a hard-line Muslim faith school from holding office again. He is said to have found new sponsors prepared to take over the running of the academies concerned. Further action, possibly to curb Birmingham City Council’s role in running schools, is likely to be taken after the publication of the Clark report.
Read more: May ‘breached ministerial code’ in feud with Gove
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