Birmingham & Black Country

Trojan Horse: Birmingham to get education commissioner

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Media captionNicky Morgan announced the new role alongside the official publication of Peter Clarke's "Trojan Horse" report

A new commissioner will be appointed to oversee schools in Birmingham.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan announced the move as she unveiled the findings of an inquiry into the so-called 'Trojan Horse' letter.

The government-commissioned report found evidence of a "co-ordinated" effort to introduce an "Islamic ethos" into several schools.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore welcomed the appointment of an education commissioner.

Ms Morgan said the education commissioner would work to address criticisms of the authority made in the report by Peter Clarke, the former counter-terrorism chief of the Metropolitan Police.

'Point of call'

Meanwhile, Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood used parliamentary privilege to name four more individuals who he said needed "further investigation".

"Of course we will, as a department, take on board the information he [Mr Mahmood] has just outlined ... we will of course pursue those names," Ms Morgan said.

Mr Clarke said the council had known of accusations detailed in the anonymous Trojan Horse letter for a "considerable amount of time" but failed to act on them.

He attributed the inertia to a reluctance at the authority to tackle "difficult issues", for fear of being branded racist.

The council's own review, by retired head teacher Ian Kershaw, levelled similar criticisms at the authority regarding its focus on "community cohesion".

Ms Morgan also announced a wider review of governance in the city council, led by Sir Bob Kerslake, due to report its findings by December.

A commissioner has already been appointed to oversee Birmingham's troubled children's services department after a string of poor Ofsted inspections.

In March, it was announced Lord Norman Warner would work with the council to improve its social services provision.

Image caption Principal of Oldknow Academy, Bhupinder Kondal, welcomed the idea of an education commissioner

Sir Albert said the council would work with the Department for Education (DfE) to choose a commissioner.

"We have had a very positive experience working with the commissioner for children's safeguarding, Lord Norman Warner, and we look forward to an equally constructive relationship with the new education commissioner," he said.

Whoever takes the job will report to Ms Morgan and to the city council's chief executive, Mark Rogers.

One of the schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse row - Oldknow Academy - was told it will have its funding agreement terminated by the DfE.

In a letter to the academy trust's board, the Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Nash, said Oldknow had failed to show it had taken adequate steps to improve.

A further letter from the minister states the DfE will revisit the school in October, to scrutinise its action plan.

Shabina Bano, whose two daughters attend Oldknow, said she "continued to support" its current governors and leadership.

Bhupinder Kondal, principal of Oldknow Academy, meanwhile welcomed the idea of an education commissioner.

"I think it's a good idea. At least the issues from the report and the recommendations will be addressed," she said.

"I hope it's a good point of call for people, but time will tell."

Procedures to stop the DfE's funding arrangement with Park View Educational Trust, which runs three schools put into special measures by Ofsted as a result of the "Trojan Horse" probe, will cease.

Lord Nash said this was due to the resignation of the previous trustees, including chairman Tahir Alam, last week.

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