Birmingham & Black Country

Trojan Horse: Reaction to council and government reports

Ian Kershaw's report
Image caption Ian Kershaw's report was released by Birmingham City Council on Friday

The findings of two reports into the "Trojan Horse" allegations of an attempted takeover of some Birmingham schools have been published.

Peter Clarke's report, ordered by the government and leaked to The Guardian, found there was a "co-ordinated effort" to impose an "Islamist ethos" in some schools.

A council-commissioned report by Ian Kershaw found "no evidence" of a conspiracy.

The BBC gathered a number of responses.

Mr Kershaw's report did find evidence of "key individuals" moving between schools but stopped short of identifying an overarching plot or conspiracy.

Peter Clarke's key findings Ian Kershaw's key findings
"There has been a co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action carried out by a number of associated individuals to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into a few schools in Birmingham." "No evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation in schools"
"I found clear evidence 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." "There are a number of key individuals who are encouraging and promoting certain Islamic principles in schools in the Birmingham area, and we have noted a pattern of these individuals moving between schools in the area."
"Whether the motivation reflects a political agenda, a deeply held religious conviction, personal gain or achieving influence within the communities, the effect has been to limit the life chances of the young people in their care and to render them vulnerable to more pernicious influences in the future." "It appears that there is a genuine and understandable desire among these groups to improve the education and opportunities for Muslim pupils. The desire is often coupled with a belief that these children can only be served by Muslim leaders and teachers."
"There is incontrovertible evidence that both senior officials and elected members of Birmingham council were aware of activities that bear a striking resemblance to those described in the Trojan horse letter many months before it surfaced." "Birmingham City Council's inability to address these problems has been exacerbated by a culture within [the council] of not wanting to address difficult issues...where there is a risk it may be accused of being racist or Islamophobic."

Russell Hobby, general secretary, National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)

Image copyright bbc

Mr Hobby said the NAHT could not "fully support the conclusions" of the city council's report because it has used "too narrow a definition of extremism" and limited its process and terms of reference "in a way which excludes critical evidence".

"We entirely understand the pressures faced by the council but do not feel that their conclusions reflect the full reality in schools," he said.

"The Clarke review, sections of which have been reported on in the press ahead of formal publication, reaches a very different set of conclusions from access to a different evidence base.

"The discrepancies between the two are regrettable and unhelpful."

He said the union would continue to support the council in its efforts to address issues raised.

Image copyright Google

Ruby Kundi, Headteacher

Ruby Kundi, head of Highfield School, one of the 25 investigated in Ian Kershaw's probe, said she thought the differing accounts could create more confusion.

"I'm thinking the differences in the reports could cause more mess, with people denying what Clarke said because Kershaw didn't find it," she said.

"Compared with Clarke, he played some of the findings down, though he did suggest the council are not really giving the full picture and are too frightened to upset Islamists or Muslim people."

"He said it was only a few governors and not a co-ordinated effort, but to me what he described was co-ordinated and all these people, governors at different schools, were connected.

"There should have been just one investigation where they worked together. I feel sorry for the parents and children in all this."

Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, Birmingham

Labour MP Mr Mahmood said he agreed with Mr Kershaw's finding that identified the issue as a "minority problem" caused by a handful of disruptive governors, but said there was "still more to look at" and called for Birmingham City Council to be held to account.

"Kershaw's report confirmed what I've been saying for a long time and now the idea that the letter was a fake can be put in the dustbin and the real issues raised can be dealt with," he said.

"Unfortunately, some people still have their heads buried in the sand but we're moving forward with new governors to change the culture in the schools involved.

"This is the main issue, to do this as quickly as possible to get our children back to proper integrated education for the new school year."

Shabina Bano, chair of Oldknow Academy Parents' Association

Ms Bano has two daughters at Oldknow Academy, one of five schools placed into special measures by education watchdog Ofsted.

"First they were out to isolate us, now they are out to divide us by talking about different forms of Islam," she said.

"The Birmingham city council report totally contradicts what Peter Clarke is saying.

"The authorities need to pull their socks up. I've lost complete faith in Peter Clarke.

"It's all going to end with no apology, it's all going to end with children paying the price."

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