No proof of Islamist plot at UK schools: leaked report
By Assed Baig, Monday, June 09, 2014
LONDON - There is no evidence of an alleged Islamist plot to take over schools in Birmingham, the U.K.'s second-largest city, according to reports to be published by the country's main educational authority Monday.
The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) said, however, six of the 21 schools investigated are not doing enough to protect children from extremism.
"The academy’s work to keep students safe is inadequate. Key safeguarding procedures are not followed. Too little is done to keep students safe from the risks associated with extremist views," said a leaked copy of a report obtained by the Anadolu Agency. The findings were rejected by the Park View Educational Trust, which operates three schools.
The Ofsted investigation into 21 schools was prompted by an anonymous letter sent to Birmingham city council -- made public in March -- claiming there was a secret "Trojan Horse" plot by "Islamists" to take over Muslim-majority schools.
It claimed that Muslims were taking control of school governing bodies and replacing head teachers with ones who adhered to a specific Muslim ideology. The leaked copy report made no indication of such a plot.
Vice-chair of the Park View Trust, David Hughes, confirmed that three of the trust’s schools had been placed under special measures by Ofsted.
"Our Ofsted inspections were ordered in a climate of suspicion created by the hoax Trojan letter and by the anonymous, unproven allegations about our schools in the media," he told the media outside Park View School.
"Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot. The Ofsted reports find absolutely no evidence of this because this is categorically not what is happening at our schools."
Hughes said that the "knee-jerk reactions" of politicians had damaged community relations in Birmingham and could lead to discrimination against Muslim children.
British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier said that the government would look into changes that would allow inspector to carry out snap inspections.
"Protecting our children is one of the first duties of government and that is why the issue of alleged Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools demands a robust response," said Cameron. "The education secretary will now ask (Ofsted's chairman) Sir Michael Wilshaw to look into allowing any school to be inspected at no notice, stopping schools having the opportunity to cover up activities which have no place in our society."
Education Secretary Michael Gove also mentioned the possibility of unannounced school inspections. "Evidence uncovered in Birmingham clearly indicates that schools have used the notice they have been given of inspections to evade proper scrutiny," he said in a statement.
Gove has previously been criticized for having links to right-wing conservative think-tanks and some critics accused him of Islamophobia following the publication of his own book on Islamism, "Celsius 7/7."
Park View School is a 98 percent Muslim school situated in a deprived majority Muslim area. In defence of the school, Assistant Principal Lee Donaghy said, "Park View is part of the solution, not part of the problem."
The debate over extremism in schools has caused a public row within the government -- between Home Secretary Theresa May and Education Secretary Michael Gove -- which forced the prime minister to order an internal investigation.
Gove had accused the Home Office of not doing enough to stop extremism but May in return questioned the Department of Education over reports that there had been concerns raised about Birmingham schools in 2010.
The Ofsted reports will be officially released later today.
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