Trojan Horse report finds 'aggressive Islamist ethos' in schools

Five schools, including Park View Academy, were put in special measures by Ofsted last month

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A leaked report into the so-called "Trojan Horse" plot has found evidence there was an agenda to introduce "an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos" into some Birmingham schools.

The report, revealed in The Guardian, was ordered by the government after claims some Muslim groups were trying to take control in some schools.

The Department for Education has said it will not comment on the leaks.

Birmingham council has released its own report, disagreeing with Mr Clarke.

Sir Albert Bore's response

Councillor Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council

We must acknowledge today that Ian Kershaw's report shows we have serious governance issues in a small number of schools in east Birmingham because of serious malpractice by members of governing bodies. This has been compounded by the inability of head teachers and other governors to counter this behaviour and by the failure of the city council to intervene to instil proper governance.

The government's report was compiled by retired senior police officer Peter Clarke, the former head of the Met Police's counter-terrorism unit. It is due to be published next week.

It says he found evidence of "sustained and co-ordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam".

He also found evidence of a "co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city".

The agenda would have confined "schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain," the leaked report says.

A spokesman for the DfE said: "The allegations made in relation to some schools in Birmingham are very serious and we are investigating all evidence put to us in conjunction with Ofsted and Birmingham City Council."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said his union was disturbed by the Clarke review findings but not surprised.

They reflected concerns raised in May about improper governance and staffing and "a narrowing of entitlement for children", he said.

Trojan Horse letter The original "Trojan Horse" letter alleges the existence of a group of hardline Muslims claiming responsibility for a change in leadership at some schools

"We do not need an over-reaction. This is not a criticism of the Islamic faith, but of a narrow current within it," he said.

Birmingham's report, compiled by former head teacher Ian Kershaw, differed in its conclusions.

It said there was "no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation in schools" in the east of the city.

Mr Kershaw did find "key individuals" promoting Islamic principles in schools and "noted a pattern of these individuals moving between schools".

He did not conclude whether the original "Trojan Horse" letter was a hoax, as has been claimed.

Start Quote

We do not need an over-reaction. This is not a criticism of the Islamic faith, but of a narrow current within it.”

End Quote Russell Hobby, General secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers

But he found evidence that the "five steps" outlined in the original letter as a means of destabilising school leadership were "present in a large number of the schools considered part of the investigation".

His report said evidence pointed to a group of "British male governors and teachers, predominantly of Pakistani heritage", which have formed in order to address perceived failings in some schools.

Mr Kershaw said the tactics employed by these groups were often "improper" and there was a "pattern" to their behaviour but it stopped short of a widespread plot.

'Slow to respond'

He said their motivation seemed to be an attempt to "raise standards" based on a "genuine and understandable desire...to improve education and opportunities for Muslim pupils.

"The evidence is not sufficient to lead me to construe the behaviour to be a co-ordinated plan to improperly influence the direction or management of schools serving students of predominantly Islamic faith or background," he said.

Mr Kershaw also says Birmingham City Council was "slow to respond" to allegations in the letter and accused education chiefs in the city of "poor oversight".

Peter Clarke Peter Clarke is a former deputy commissioner of the Met

He identifies a "culture within [the council] of not wanting to address difficult issues and problems with school governance" for risk of bringing accusations of racism or Islamophobia.

Speaking at a press conference earlier, Council leader Sir Albert Bore admitted the council failed to act for fear of being seen as racist or Islamophobic.

Last month, Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency published their reports and five schools were placed in special measures as a result.

The schools involved have always denied any wrongdoing.

On Tuesday, the board of trustees resigned at Park View Education Trust, which has been at the centre of claims, stating they had been the victims of a "co-ordinated and vicious" attack.

The trust has been the focus of allegations made in the anonymous Trojan Horse letter alleging the existence of a clique of hardline Muslims attempting to seize control of Birmingham schools. The origin of the letter and the intentions behind it have never been determined.

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