Trojan Horse schools: Jihadi film was shown to schoolchildren

Investigators tell MPs of evidence of "very bad behaviour" at Birmingham schools

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The Independent Online

Pupils at a Birmingham school involved in the “Trojan Horse” controversy were shown a Jihadi extremist promotional video, MPs have been told.

The finding emerged as Peter Clark, a past head of the Metropolitan Police’s anti-terrorism squad, who was appointed by former Education Secretary Michael Gove to head an inquiry into the affair, urged the Government to investigate whether schools in other areas of the country had been targeted by hard-line Islamists.

Both Mr Clark and Ian Kershaw, who headed a review of the affair for Birmingham City Council, gave evidence to the Commons select committee on education today.

Their separate inquiries were set up in the wake of claims that Islamic extremists were trying to impose their philosophy on schools in the city and take control of them.

Mr Kershaw said his inquiry had not found any evidence of “attempts to coerce young people into extremist violent jihadist activity”, but that there were examples of “very bad behaviour of some people in schools that needed to be addressed”.

In one instance, “a film about violent extremism” was shown, which was "completely unacceptable for young people to see”.

"Was it," asked Graham Stuart, the Conservative chairman of the committee, “a Jihadi extremist promotional video?”

Mr Kershaw concurred: “It was shown in one class and it should have been stopped but that didn’t happen.”

Mr Clark told MPs that other incidents included anti-Christian chanting during assemblies, pupils being strongly encouraged to join in the calls to prayers and “segregation issues”, which saw boys and girls encouraged to spend less time in each other’s company out of the classroom.

in addition, he said there were examples of governors organising demonstrations against head teachers, and having private words with Ofsted inspectors about heads before they started inspecting the school.

He added: “I’m not a great believer in coincidences and I would find it very surprising if it was only in the few schools that we had time to look at in Birmingham that this was going on.

“I think it is incumbent on the Department for Education and others to see whether the sorts of things we found in Birmingham are happening elsewhere. I’d be surprised if there weren’t some symptoms elsewhere.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, also indicated earlier that he believed the threat had spread to other areas of the country. Bradford has been named as one area where schools are under pressure from hard-line Islamists.

Earlier both Mr Kershaw and Mr Clark said some witnesses had only agreed to speak to their separate inquiries if they were given an assurance that their evidence would not be passed on to the other one.

Mr Clark said some had been reluctant to investigate the affair because “fears of being accused of racism or Islamophobia were in the forefront of their mind”.

Others had “lost all faith and confidence in the city council", and some of them were even "genuinely afraid for their careers, and their personal safety and the safety of their families” if they gave evidence openly.

He concluded: “I believe I’ve found very clear evidence of people who espouse or are sympathetic to or do not challenge extremist views. I didn’t find any evidence of anyone advocating violent extremism in schools.”