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Three Trojan Horse inquiries favour co-operation as council notes ‘appetite to work together’

Three Trojan Horse inquiries favour co-operation as council notes ‘appetite to work together’

🕔09.May 2014

Official reports into allegations of a plot to ‘Islamise’ Birmingham schools may not be made public until July amid signs that the three separate investigations into the Trojan Horse claims are beginning to work more closely together.

Peter Clarke, a former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism expert who was appointed by Education Secretary Michael Gove to review evidence from at least 25 schools under investigation, plans to publish his findings in the summer.

Mr Clarke is co-operating with Birmingham City Council, which is conducting its own investigation led by former head teacher Ian Kershaw, and with Ofsted which has carried out inspections at 19 of the schools and academies.

Birmingham council leaders were critical of Mr Gove for setting up a separate inquiry and were keen to establish one joint investigation by the local authority, Ofsted and the Department for Education. While the council did not get its wish for one all-embracing inquiry, it appears that the three investigators are at least talking to each other and sharing information.

A council spokeswoman said it was too soon to say that the three reports would be “choreographed” and published at the same time, but there was “an appetite to work together” and the council intended to publish its report before the school summer holidays.

She pointed out that the Department for Education and Ofsted have been invited to send representatives to the council’s review body, which will receive a report from Mr Kershaw.

Over the Mayday weekend Mr Clarke issued an appeal for anyone with information about the Trojan Horse allegations to come forward. The city council has issued a similar plea.

Both the council and Mr Clarke will have to sift through hundreds of claims made by present and former governors, teachers and parents giving details of ways in which militant Muslims are said to have infiltrated classrooms in secular schools forcing out moderate teachers and imposing strict Islamic principles.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Peter Clarke has been appointed to take an overview of evidence in relation to Birmingham schools and the allegations relating to the document publicly known as the ‘Trojan Horse letter’. He will work very closely with Ian Kershaw as adviser to Birmingham City Council to tackle this important issue and provide independent advice to the Secretary of State.

“There will be close co-operation between on-going investigations by West Midlands Police and Ofsted. The commissioner will examine all evidence put to him and is expected to report by the summer.”

Meanwhile, a senior Labour figure appealed to school governors, teachers, parents and city councillors to refrain from commenting further on Trojan Horse issues because to do so would risk stirring up a “media frenzy”.

Andy Howell, former deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, wrote on his Facebook page: “Just a thought on the Trojan issue for all of those friends of mine who are closely involved, school governors and so on. “It looks as if there will be no public reports issued until the end of the month at the earliest. You might think about simply adopting an attitude with the media — local and national — that we have said all we can say at the moment. We will wait and see what the content of the reports is until we comment again.

“There is no story at the moment. Unwittingly we can add to media frenzy.

“Even those of you who are more closely involved do not really know what has been going on everywhere. A little caution would be wise, not least because some of these reports may bring new information to us. It is best not to pre-judge in these circumstances.

“There is much in the way this issue has been treated that is infuriating and unfair and unjust. Everyone wants to put the record straight.

“There is a time and a place for this. It is probably best to consider arguments and statements in the light of the reports themselves. As Khalid Mahmood says, there are issues that the communities themselves not only need to be aware of but will need to deal with more decisively in the future.”

Informants contacting Mr Clarke have been told that any information they provide will be used to inform ongoing investigations and in certain circumstances may be shared with relevant third parties to assist enquiries.

The DfE spokesman added: “You may be contacted by officials to request further details in connection with the information that you have provided.

“It is important to understand that the information may potentially be used in a published report of the investigations findings. Information gained from the public and used within the final report will not contain any references to personal details relating to the source of information. All information passed on to the commissioner will be treated in the strictest confidence and with the utmost sensitivity.”

Anyone with information about Trojan Horse can contact Peter Clarke by writing to The Education Commissioner, 4th Floor, Sanctuary Buildings, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3BT, or emailing Education.COMMISSIONER@education.gsi.gov.uk.

Birmingham City Council has also set up a dedicated email and telephone number for people to use if they have information about Trojan Horse. The email address is: trojanhorse@birmingham.gov.uk

The telephone number is: 0121 303 7602.

There is also a Freepost address: Freepost, MID22594, Birmingham,B4 7BR.

 

 

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