Trojan Horse: Headteacher received death threats for speaking out against homophobia

At least three schools had dead animals placed in their playgrounds

Richard Garner
Sunday 03 May 2015 15:44 BST
Delegates at the NAHT conference were told hard-line extremists were now conducting a campaign of intimidation outside schools (photo shows Oldknow Academy, one of schools at the centre of the 'Trojan Horse' inquiry)
Delegates at the NAHT conference were told hard-line extremists were now conducting a campaign of intimidation outside schools (photo shows Oldknow Academy, one of schools at the centre of the 'Trojan Horse' inquiry)

A headteacher has told how she had received death threats for speaking out against homophobia as part of a new campaign of intimidation in the wake of the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair.

Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers' conference in Liverpool were told hard-line extremists were now conducting a campaign of intimidation outside schools - rather than through governing bodies.

In addition to the death threats, at least three schools were faced with dead animals being placed in their playgrounds.

Headteachers claimed the Government had not taken sufficient action to ensure that governors identified as a result of the Trojan Horse affairs faced investigation or permanent disbarment from holding office if found to be acting improperly. In particular, they wanted ministers to set up a database with details of governors who should not be allowed to hold office on it once they had been disbarred.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, headteacher of Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham told the conference: "Trojan Horse has not gone away. Those of us who were involved we knew it was the tip of the iceberg. We still have dead animals hung on the school gates - dismembered cats in playgrounds.

"We have petitions outside schools objecting to teachers teaching against homophobia. We have death threats on Facebook, for example, towards me 'or any headteacher who teaches my children it's all right to be gay will be at the end of my shotgun'."

She added: "All the behaviour and comments we saw before are still there - so to have promises unbroken, not followed through are absolutely unhelpful, unsupportive and has left open gaps for certain individuals to start up again."

Around 100 teachers were suspended as a result of Trojan Horse (Getty)

Ms Hewitt-Clarkson, who said the incidents had been reported to the police and the Home Office, said outside the conference centre: "You just have to get on with things. I presume the dead animals are just to intimidate people and make them fearful. It is very easy not to talk about these things - you may be fearful and maybe you don't want to draw attention to these things."

Headteachers said that around 100 teachers had been suspended and were being investigated as a result of evidence given to the Trojan Horse inquiry carried out by Peter Clarke, former head of the Metropolitan Police' anti-terrorism branch, at the behest of former Education Secretary Michael Gove - but no governors. Several had resigned as a result of the investigation into the affair.

Alison Marshall, Birmingham branch secretary of the NAHT, said: "We need to exert pressure to ensure all the recommendations are truly delivered not in a superficial way and certainly not watered down."

The recommendations included barring people from serving as governors for life if they had indulged in intimidatory tactics against headteachers or staff.

Ms Marshall added: "It is our members who are yet again giving evidence of appalling acts of radicalisation... Some of these members are truly broken and emotionally it's been painful."

Rob Kelsall, senior regional official of the NAHT for the area, added: "There have been attacks on headteachers in their own schools trying to challenge homophobia.

"We're very keen to move on from Trojan Horse but the door has been left open to allow a resurgence of activity - and some of they key operators are intimidating some of the heads who aren't necessarily going to be speaking out about this."

He added: "The buck stops with the Department for Education. The fact that not one of the Trojan Horse governors have had an exemption or banning order in place has enabled this to resurface."

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who was addressing the conference, said: "There is no place for extremism in schools and we are continuing to work to eliminate any form of extremism.

"We have taken action to remove people from schools who didn't follow British values. It involved a small number of people and they were very determined."

She said she understood some of the governors involved had faced investigations.

She was particularly critical of the threats against teachers opposing homophobia, saying that "tolerance and respect" were a fundamental part of teaching British values.

The Trojan Horse affair surfaced last year when an anonymous letter claimed hard-line Islamists were plotting the takeover of schools in the city. As a result of an investigation by education standards watchdog Ofsted, five schools were declared "inadequate" with evidence showing discrimination against girls and non-Muslim pupils.

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