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Trojan Horse claims are ‘just old fashioned Islamaphobia’, insists Park View Academy head

Trojan Horse claims are ‘just old fashioned Islamaphobia’, insists Park View Academy head

🕔17.Jun 2014

Claims of hardline Muslim infiltration into Birmingham classrooms are based on “plain old fashioned Islamaphobia” rather than any evidence, a senior teacher at one of the Trojan Horse schools has claimed.

Lee Donaghy, assistant principal at Park View Academy, told the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee that allegations about governors imposing ultra-conservative Islamic principles on pupils were made by “people who don’t understand the Muslim way of life”.

Mr Donaghy rejected all of the claims made about Park View by Ofsted inspectors, who he said has selectively used evidence and were not impartial. A suggestion that girls were told they could not refuse sex to their husband was based on “misunderstanding”, he added.

Mr Donaghy said: “There is no evidence of extremism being promoted or tolerated in the school.”

His remarks came amid a suggestion that Park View is to mount a judicial review in an attempt to overturn Ofsted’s findings.

He listed his concerns about Trojan Horse and Ofsted’s findings: “It’s plain old fashioned Islamaphobia. People are deliberately twisting things that happen and casting aspersions. People who don’t understand the Muslim way of life.

“A lot of vague, undated, anonymous, allegations.

“Wilful misrepresentation of thing we have done. Outright lies. Selective use of evidence.”

Mr Donaghy added that the climate in which Ofsted made their inspection of Park View, with Trojan Horse allegations “swirling around in the media” meant the inspectors could not be impartial.

He added: ““No way Ofsted could have come into the school and made an impartial judgment.”

He insisted: “We honour the faith of pupils. Muslims generally feel marginalised and under-valued and feel they have to hide their faith.”

It would be a “great shame and a great tragedy” if Park View governors were sacked and replaced by a new body, Mr Donaghy told the committee.

Ofsted declared Park View to be inadequate and placed the school under special measures.

Inspectors reported: “The academy is not doing enough to keep students safe, including raising students’ awareness of the risks of extremism.

“Boys and girls are taught separately in religious education and personal development lessons.

“A significant number of staff say they have no confidence in either the senior leaders or the governing body. They believe that the academy is poorly led and managed and that neither staff nor students are treated equally and fairly.

“Students are not well prepared for life in wider society.

“Some links with the police are in place but these are not sufficiently embedded to ensure that all staff and students are aware of the risk of extremism.”

Birmingham City Council chief executive Mark Rogers and schools cabinet member Cllr Brigid Jones told the committee they were yet to see any evidence of extremism at city schools.

Mr Rogers said a distinction had to be drawn between Ofsted’s findings of a “narrow faith-based ideology” at some of the Trojan Horse schools and extremism “as in radicalisation with the intention of becoming a violent extremist”.

He called for a national debate about the future of faith in non-denominational schools.

 

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