Schools pushed intolerant Islamic ethos - report

AN INQUIRY has found there was a deliberate effort to introduce an “intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos” into a number of Birmingham schools.

Nicky Morgan told MPs that the findings were disturbing. Picture: PA

The government-ordered investigation into the “Trojan Horse” allegations found “clear evidence” of a number of people associated with each other in positions of authority in schools who “espouse, endorse or fail to challenge extremist views”.

The damning report by the inquiry, led by former anti-terrorism chief Peter Clarke and commissioned by then education secretary Michael Gove in April, also accused Birmingham City Council of failing to support head­teachers who were under pressure dealing with inappropriate behaviour by school governors.

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In the wake of the findings, new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced a raft of measures which she said would help “put things right”.

A new education commissioner for Birmingham is to be appointed, and there will also be a review of governance of the city council. Teachers at the schools involved could also face misconduct panels.

Mr Clarke – a former head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit – said he “neither ­specifically looked for, nor found, ­evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or ­violent extremism in the schools of concern”.

But he said: “I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, sympathise with or fail to challenge extremist views.”

The report concluded: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an ­intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in ­Birmingham.”

It said this had been achieved in some schools by gaining influence on the governing bodies, installing “sympathetic” headteachers and senior staff, appointing “like-minded” people to key positions and removing heads who were not “compliant” with a particular agenda.

“Their motivation may well be linked to a deeply held religious conviction, but the effect has been to limit the life chances of the young people in their care and to render them more vulnerable to pernicious influences in the future,” the report said.

Criticising Birmingham City Council, the report concluded that the authority was “aware of the practices and behaviours that were subsequently outlined in the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter long before the letter surfaced”.

Mr Clarke also said the Department for Education had allowed Park View Educational Trust – the body at the centre of the allegations – to move from running a single school to being responsible for three too quickly, without systems in place for holding the new academies to account.

Ms Morgan said Mr Clarke’s findings were “disturbing”.

She said: “There is a clear account in the report of people in positions of influence in these schools, with a restricted and narrow interpretation of their faith, who have not promoted fundamental British values and who have failed to challenge the extremist views of others.”