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Trojan Horse: 'Lessons must be learnt', says Laws

Lessons must be learnt in the wake of the alleged “Trojan Horse” Islamist takeover plot to avoid anything similar taking place elsewhere in the country, schools minister David Laws said today.

Mr Laws also told MPs he expects the Department for Education to publish the report it commissioned into the affair tomorrow.

The publication will come days after leaks emerged from a draft of the report, which was carried out by former Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism chief Peter Clarke, which suggested a "sustained, co-ordinated agenda to impose segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline, politicised strain of Sunni Islam" in Birmingham schools.

The Clarke report was at complete odds, however, to Birmingham City Council’s own report, authored by former headteacher Ian Kershaw, which said there was no evidence of a "conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation in schools in east Birmingham".

Speaking in the Commons during education questions, Mr Laws also stated that the new education secretary Nicky Morgan would be making a statement to the House in response to both reports.

Responding to a question as to whether the government’s academy agenda had created a “fragmented” school system in Birmingham that had prevented “coherent governance”, Mr Laws said: “We certainly need to learn the lessons, not just for Birmingham but for the wider schools system, of the events that have been reported on over the last few weeks.

"I should say to you that we expect as a department to publish Peter Clarke's report tomorrow and I should also say... (Education Secretary Nicky Morgan) intends to make a statement to the House to say how we intend to respond both to the Clarke report and to Ian Kershaw's report."

Labour backbencher Bill Esterson later told Mr Laws: "You said you feel like we should learn the wider lessons of the Birmingham inquiry, not just those about Birmingham schools, and Peter Clarke is reported to have described a system of benign neglect when it comes to the DfE.

"Do you agree that the way to deal with this benign neglect is to bring in a proper system of local oversight?"

Mr Laws replied: "We, as you will understand, are not going to comment today on leaked reports. Tomorrow [Ms Morgan] will be in a position to set out very clearly the way in which we respond to both of the reports that there have been.

"But I would say to you very gently that all of those engaged in the education debate have something to learn from this – Birmingham local authority did not cover itself in glory over all aspects of these issues either."

Related stories:

Trojan Horse: Five schools placed in special measures - June 2014
Hunt: Ofsted 'must answer questions' over Trojan Horse scandal  - June 2014
'Trojan Horse is a complex saga from which almost no one involved comes out well' - June 2014

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