A report into the alleged “Trojan Horse” takeover plot by Muslim hardliners has revealed shocking details of teachers engaging in alarming online discussions including “explicit homophobia” and “scepticism” about the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.
The document, published today by the government and written by Peter Clarke, a former head of anti-terrorism at Scotland Yard, also found “clear evidence” that pupils at the Birmingham schools were being exposed to “extremist views”.
But among the most startling findings to emerge from the report were the contents of a social media discussion between a group of teachers at Park View School, which went under the name of the “Park View Brotherhood”.
The forum was started and administered by the acting principal, Monzoor Hussain, which included 3,000 messages and showed that those involved either “promoted or failed to challenge views that are grossly intolerant of beliefs and practices other than their own”.
Mr Clarke writes: “The all-male group discussions include explicit homophobia; highly offensive comments about British service personnel; a stated ambition to increase segregation in the school; disparagement of strands of Islam; scepticism about the truth of reports of the murder of Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings; and a constant undercurrent of anti-Western, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment.
“The numerous endorsements of hyperlinks to extremist speakers betray a collective mindset that can fairly be described as an intolerant Islamist approach that denies the validity of alternative beliefs, lifestyles and value systems, including within Islam itself,” he add.
According to the report, in some of the messages the teachers shared images of toilet roll with the flag of Israel imprinted on it.
Mr Clarke stated that Mr Hussain had challenged some of the posts on the groups. He eventually changed the name of the group from the “Park View Brotherhood” to “Park View News”.
The report also noted claims that prefects at Park View School, called “ambassadors”, were selected from the most religiously observant pupils and were dubbed the “religious police” by some members of staff.
The report states that the ambassadors were alleged to report to the headteacher the names of staff and students who exhibited behaviour deemed “unacceptable by conservative Muslims”.
These included behaviours such as “boys and girls talking to each other or touching each other; boyfriend and girlfriend relationships; staff who speak out of turn; staff who wear inappropriate dress and Muslim women staff who may not be sufficiently covered”. Mr Hussain “vigorously denied” the claims.
Mr Clarke said he "neither specifically looked for, nor found, evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham".
But the report went on: "The existence of a common ideological stance among key linked individuals in this enquiry, the taking of control of governing bodies and the implementation of conservative religious practices in the schools where these individuals have influence, means that there can be no doubt that what has happened has been driven by a desire to instil a particular style of religious ethos into these state non-faith schools."
Education secretary Nicky Morgan said the findings from the report were “disturbing” and that there was “compelling evidence of a determined effort” among people with a “shared ideology” to gain control of the governing bodies of schools in Birmingham.
And she added: "Teachers have said they fear children are learning to be intolerant of difference and diversity. Instead of enjoying a broadening and enriching experience in school, young people are having their horizons narrowed and are being denied the opportunity to flourish in a modern multicultural Britain."
Ms Morgan announced that a new Birmingham education commissioner would be put in place to address the concerns within the city’s schools.
She also indicated that schools minister Lord Nash had written to Oldknow Academy Trust instructing it that its funding agreement had been terminated in light of its "manifest breaches", adding that a new interim executive board had replaced the failing governing body of Saltley School.