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Trojan Horse probe extended to 25 Birmingham schools as council flooded with ‘Islam plot’ claims

Trojan Horse probe extended to 25 Birmingham schools as council flooded with ‘Islam plot’ claims

🕔14.Apr 2014

Twenty-five Birmingham schools are now at the centre of a fast-moving investigation into the Trojan Horse allegations that they have been infiltrated by militant Muslims who are forcing children to adopt a strict Islamic style of education.

The city council confirmed today that it expects the number of schools involved in the probe to rise and that it has received more than 200 letters, emails and contacts from parents, governors and teachers giving information about the alleged stealth operation.

In further developments, the council announced the appointment of a former head teacher to lead an operational group looking into the Trojan Horse claims. Ian Kershaw, the managing director of Northern Education, will be chief adviser on a six-month contract.

His findings will be subject to a review group led by senior civil servant Stephen Rimmer,  who is on secondment to West Midlands councils to give guidance on children’s services matters. A council scrutiny committee will publish its findings on the issue as soon as possible.

But the council’s move, six months after the first of several Trojan Horse letters were received, may be eclipsed by the Department for Education which is waiting for the result of emergency Ofsted inspections at 15 of the 25 schools.

It’s thought likely that Education Secretary Michael Gove may order an inquiry into the affair and that the Trojan Horse investigation will be taken out of the council’s hands.

Council Leader Sir Albert Bore said: “We expect the Department for Education to make further announcements and comments. They have already initiated Ofsted inspections at a number of schools and we expect the Ofsted reports to be published fully during the Easter break.” He confirmed that he was in “regular dialogue” with the Department for Education and the Secretary of state.

Sir Albert said publicity given to Trojan Horse had prompted many people to come forward with information about the allegations.

He added: “When you open up an investigation  you find material comes into your possession which had not been known before. Individuals are now beginning to speak about these matters when in the past they had been silent.”

The council says it still does not know whether the Trojan Horse letters are a hoax, but it is satisfied that information arising from probing the letters is serious and worthy of thorough investigation.

Allegations include claims that teachers and governors at secular schools are being bullied and forced out to be replaced by strict Muslims, children are being segregated to keep boys and girls apart and that children have been encouraged to join in with anti-Christian and anti-American chants at assemblies.

Sir Albert said: “The nature of the Trojan Horse allegations are still be investigated. It would have been quite wrong for us to have concluded in November that things were operating in a wrong way or an unacceptable way just on the basis of an unsigned letter.”

The council leader said he was concerned that the issue was moving “beyond schools and into the communities”. He added: “We have to look around the city and its reaction and the reaction of individual different communities to the various things that are being said around these Trojan Horse letters.”

He said Birmingham’s Youth Parliament would be involved during the summer in work to answer the questions ‘what does a good inclusive education in Birmingham look like’ and ‘what does a safe and resilient citizen of the future look like’.

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