Birmingham schools facing fresh wave of death threats and intimidation after Trojan Horse, heads claim
Birmingham schools are facing a fresh campaign of intimidation in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal, including death threats against headteachers and dead animals being left in playgrounds, it has been claimed.
Speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers’ annual conference in Liverpool today, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, head of Anderton Park primary school in Birmingham, said the problems raised by the Trojan Horse scandal were "the tip of the iceberg”.
“We still have dead animals hung on the gates of schools, dismembered cats on playgrounds,” she said. “We have petitions outside schools, objecting to teachers teaching against homophobia.”
Ms Hewitt-Clarkson said she had been sent a death threat on social media, in which someone had written that “any headteacher who teaches my children it's alright to be gay will be at the end of my shotgun”.
Speaking after a debate on the issue, Ms Hewitt-Clarkson said she was not referring to her own school, but that she knew of one school that had found a dead dog hanging from the railings and another with a dismembered cat in the playground.
She said she did know why this is happening, suggesting it may be to intimidate people.
Rob Kelsall, NAHT senior regional officer, said after the debate that school leaders were keen to move on from The Trojan Horse scandal, but were frustrated that not all the recommendations of the Clarke report produced in the wake of the scandal were being fully delivered.
Heads at the conference said specific recommendations about limiting the number of governing bodies one person can sit on, and preventing certain individuals from being involved in running schools, had not been acted on.
“That has left the door open and allowed the resurgence of some of the key operators to try and start to intimidate some of the headteachers who are not necessarily the ones who are going to be speaking out,” Mr Kelsall said.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan, also speaking at the NAHT’s conference, said: “This is a reminder that this is a serious issue and something that is not going to be solved overnight. We have taken action to remove, and continue to take action to remove people from being in schools who don't follow British values.”
She said that if the Conservatives were in power after the general election, the Prime Minister, the home secretary and others would start work immediately on the party’s extremism strategy. The prospect of setting up a database of governors would be a discussion for the extremism taskforce, she added.
The union backed a resolution raising concerns that the recommendations of the government-commissioned Clarke report into the Trojan Horse scandal have not been fully implemented.
NAHT member Alison Marshall told the conference: “Nine months after the Clarke report was published, with recommendations so clearly stated, very strong really evidence and given by our members and colleagues, we are still a long way from implementing those recommendations.
“Nicky Morgan stated in January that the government had accepted every one of Peter Clarke's recommendations. We need to exert pressure to ensure that these recommendations are truly delivered, not in a superficial way and certainly not watered down.”
She went on to say: "Despite all the evidence we have, we're faced with a situation where not one single governor implicated in the Trojan Horse scandal, has been investigated or even banned.
"Where is the justice in that?”
Ms Hewitt-Clarkson told delegates: "All the behaviours and things we saw before are still there. So to have promises that have been broken, not followed through are absolutely unhelpful, unsupportive and have left open gaps for certain individuals to start up again.”
Delegate Tim Gallagher said that because governors were volunteers, there was limited legislation in the area.
He told the conference it was “blindingly obvious” that in a “loose, largely unregulated framework” inappropriate behaviour could be found in the governance of schools.
“It does not need to be as profoundly dangerous as that found in Birmingham, it can be the micro-managing of a school to the detriment of our members and the school itself,” he said.
Four separate investigations were conducted into the alleged Trojan Horse plot by hardline Muslims to seize control of a number of school governing boards in Birmingham.
While no evidence of radicalisation was found, the findings did raise concerns that in some cases governors had exerted inappropriate influence over how schools were run.