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Government to ‘Trojan Horse’ schools: one-month deadline to comply with ‘fundamental values of democracy’

Government to ‘Trojan Horse’ schools: one-month deadline to comply with ‘fundamental values of democracy’

🕔11.Jun 2014

Three Birmingham schools at the heart of Trojan Horse allegations of infiltration by militant Muslims have been given a month to show that classroom lessons promote “tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions”.

The Park View Educational Trust must satisfy the Department for Education that pupils at Park View academy are encouraged to respect the “fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”.

At Golden Hillock School, also run by Park View Trust, governors must satisfy the DfE that non-Muslim pupils are not treated less favourably than Muslim pupils and that staff recruitment arrangements are conducted in a transparent and open manner. The school must also demonstrate that all pupils have an understanding of the “risks associated with extremist views”.

Nansen Primary, also run by Park View Trust, is required to submit an action plan showing how it intends to meet statutory requirements to make sure pupils acquire an appreciation of their own and other cultures in a way that promotes “tolerance and harmony”.

Failure to do so could result in the DfE terminating its funding agreement with Park View, Golden Hillock and Nansen primary schools, forcing the institutions to close down unless a different source of income could be found.

All three schools were downgraded to ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures after recent Ofsted inspections.

The deadline is contained in a letter to Tahir Alam, chair of governors at the Park View Educational Trust, from Education Minister Lord Nash and follows a highly critical Ofsted inspection of the three schools.

Lord Nash says he has “grave concerns” about safeguarding standards and management of the three schools.

The tight deadline, five weeks, is unlikely to be met given the number and complexity of assurances demanded by the DfE, according to an education consultant who spoke to Chamberlain Files.

Ofsted inspectors were critical of Mr Alam, who they said had an “inappropriate” day to day role in running the three schools.

Seven years ago, Mr Alam helped write a guidebook for the Muslim Council of Great Britain setting out principles for conducting lessons at schools. Advice called for girl pupils to be covered except for their hands and feet, advocated gender separation in some classroom activities and attacked a multicultural approach to collective worship.

Among the “aspirations and concerns” for schools were that they should not teach “potentially harmful forms of music” which “promote immoral behaviour” or include “unethical and un-Islamic lyrics”.

The Ofsted report into academies run by the Park View trust noted: “The curriculum provided by Nansen Primary School is not broad and balanced and the Trust has not taken into account the guidance issued by the Secretary of State in relation to sex and relationship education.

“Some elements of the curriculum, including the social, moral, spiritual and cultural provision at Park View School, Golden Hillock School and Nansen Primary School are restricted to a conservative Islamic perspective.

“There is insufficient evidence that Park View School is welcoming to all faiths and none. It is not faith designated, but has an apparent Islamic focus and collective acts of worship are delivered at Park View School and Golden Hillock School that are not in keeping with the requirements of the funding agreement.

“There are also examples of non-compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and the Independent School Standards, for example the practice of segregating girls and boys in some classes in a manner which could constitute less favourable treatment of girls. There is evidence of an inappropriate external speaker being invited into Park View School to speak to children.”

Female members of staff at Golden Hillock complained to Ofsted about the way in which governing body meetings were conducted, claiming that some governors would not shake the hands of female senior leaders and were rude to women and dismissive of their input.

The Ofsted report continued: “At Park View School we saw schemes of work for PSHE, Biology, and Sex and Relationship Education that had been restricted to comply with a conservative Islamic teaching.

“In Biology, GCSE year 11, discussion with pupils indicated that the teacher had briefly delivered the theory of evolution to comply with the syllabus, but had told students that `This is not what we believe`.

“Topics such as body structure, function and the menstrual cycle were not covered in class, although pupils needed to familiarise themselves at home in preparation for the GCSE exam. Students told us that as Muslims they were not allowed to study matters such as reproduction with the opposite sex.

“At Golden Hillock School we were told by senior staff and by 2 heads of department that staff had been given instructions by governors banning discussion with students on any matters regarding sexual orientation and intimacy.”

Park View Educational Trust issued a statement rejecting all of Ofsted’s findings. The trust accused inspectors of operating in a “climate of suspicion, driven by the Trojan Horse letter and coupled with unproven allegations about Park View that had started to appear in the media”.

Mr Alam was unavailable for comment.

 

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