A repeat of the Trojan Horse affair would be handled much more effectively today as a result of reforms put in place since the allegations first emerged, education secretary Nicky Morgan said today.
She said significant changes had been made in how allegations of radicalisation were handled, following a report by former counter-terrorism chief Peter Clarke into claims that Muslim extremists were trying to take-over schools in Birmingham.
All Mr Clarke’s recommendations had either been implemented or were in the process of being implemented, she said.
“I’m confident that if the events we witnessed in Birmingham were repeated again today, they would be identified and dealt with more quickly and in a far more effective way,” Ms Morgan said in a statement to the House of Commons.
She said progress had been made on tackling the “troubling legacy” at the five schools at the centre of the allegations, despite a significant number of staff being suspended.
Oldknow and Golden Hillock schools are to join the Ark network of academies, while Saltley School is being sponsored by a neighbouring school.
Ms Morgan said the National College for Teaching and Leadership was investigating “a number of teachers and officials” involved in the alleged radicalisation, with an announcement on what action will be taken expected soon.
She said the government was considering whether to extend the requirement to publish a register of interests to governors of maintained schools, as well as the academy trustees covered at present.
Legal protection for school staff making whistleblowing allegations was also being extended, she added.
But as well as responding more effectively, she said it was also important to build resilience so schools were in a better position to withstand future attempts at subversion.
Promoting British values – which acted as a “bulwark against extremism” – should be part of a school’s core responsibilities, she told MPs. “No school should be exempt from promoting them, just as no school should be exempt from promoting rigorous academic standards,” she added.
But Tristram Hunt, shadow education secretary, said the reforms offered no certainty that future allegations would be dealt with differently.
He said the deliberate fragmentation of the school system had reduced accountability and increased the risk of a radical takeover.
“We hold this government to account for a chaotic and disjointed schools system which has increased the threat to child safety and to attainment,” he said.
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