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Trojan Horse: 'Government should widen investigation beyond Birmingham'

 

Attempts to impose a hardline Muslim agenda on schools are likely to have taken place in cities across the UK, according to a former anti-terrorism chief who investigated the alleged "Trojan Horse" plot.

Peter Clarke, the author of a government-commissioned report into the alleged plot, told the Commons Education Select Committee that he would be "surprised" if moves to gain control and influence over schools were restricted to Birmingham.

Ian Kershaw, who headed a separate inquiry for Birmingham City Council, told MPs that pupils at one school were shown a "violent extremist" video that was "totally unacceptable".  

When questioned by MPs, Mr Clarke called on the government to widen its investigations to more schools around the country.

"I would find it very surprising if this was only happening in the few schools that we had the time and opportunity to look at in east Birmingham," he said.

"Some of the people who were involved in promulgating these techniques of gaining control and influencing schools have had national roles in various educational bodies and, I know, have lectured and taken part in conferences in other cities.

“I think it is incumbent on the Department for Education and others to take a very careful look now and see if the sort of things we found in Birmingham are indeed happening elsewhere... I would be surprised if there weren’t some symptoms elsewhere.”

Mr Clarke was asked to undertake an investigation into the schools after an anonymous letter describing a "Trojan Horse" strategy to take over a number of schools in Birmingham and run them on strict Islamic principles.

His report found evidence that pupils at the schools were being exposed to extremist views. It also included details of a social-media discussion between a group of teachers at Park View School (pictured), which included homophobia, ambitions to increase segregation in the school and an undercurrent of anti-Western sentiment. The school has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

The Clarke inquiry was one of four undertaken at the time. Mr Kershaw found there was no evidence of radicalisation, but added there was an "air of intolerance".

Mr Kershaw told MPs there was some value in having overlapping inquiries – he said some people he interviewed were "vehement" they would not speak to Mr Clarke. Similarly, Mr Clarke said some of his interviewees had lost all trust in Birmingham City Council and would not co-operate with the investigation they had commissioned.

When asked for his views on why there had been a failure to act, Mr Clarke said the fear of being accused of racism or Islamophobia had been at the forefront of people’s minds.

After Ofsted inspections of the 21 schools, five were placed into special measures. 

The Clarke report discovered that senior council officers had known of similar allegations as early as the end of 2012, but no concerted action had been taken.

The lack of information sharing between Ofsted, the city council and Department of Education was also highlighted. As a result of the scandal, the government has announced that all children will be taught the British values of tolerance and fairness.

Related stories

Trojan Horse: New school standards branded ‘unlawful’ by Christian charity - August 2014

Trojan Horse: Report finds ‘clear evidence’ of ‘extremism views’ - July 2014

Emergency powers announced to close schools with links to extremism - June 2014

 

 

 

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