Probe into the plot to replace teachers with fundamentalist Muslims and radical Islamic teachings widens to at least 25 Birmingham schools. Thousands of schoolchildren’s education could have been threatened by a hardline Muslim plot to force out moderate school officials and teachers and replace them with extremists and radical Islamists.
UK Daily Mail It emerged today that 25 Birmingham schools are now being investigated for links to the alleged radicalization plot, and while Birmingham City Council has refused to name the schools, some of which have upwards of 600 students, it means that vast numbers of pupils could have been at risk.
The number of schools allegedly involved rose today from 15 to 25 as Education Secretary Michael Gove is said to have told Ofsted inspectors to fail any school ‘where religious conservatism is getting in the way of learning and a balanced curriculum’.
This afternoon Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed the investigations, saying schools should not be allowed to become ‘silos of segregation’.
As the scale of the alleged plot became apparent, Birmingham City Council appointed a new chief adviser, former head teacher Ian Kershaw, to handle at least 200 complaints received in relation to the ‘Trojan Horse’ alleged plot to take over primary, secondary, and community schools as well as academies in the city.
The unsigned and undated Trojan Horse letter claimed that a small but radical group of Muslims was pursuing its own agenda in the classrooms, with uncooperative headteachers and governors forced out.
It said that the plot had caused ‘a great amount of organised disruption’ in the city, crediting it with forcing a change of leadership at four schools. At the centre of the scandal is Birmingham’s Park View Academy, where it is alleged that £70,000 was spent on loudspeakers to call pupils to Islamic prayers.
Birmingham City Council’s investigation will run beside a separate inquiry by the Department for Education (DfE), and will report back on 15 schools initially next month, with a fuller report due in July.
Headteachers and governors judged to be performing ‘inadequately’ in terms of pushing religious views to the detriment of children’s education may be immediately dismissed.
Since the appearance of the letter in March, anonymous whistle-blowers including former staff have come forward, making claims that boys and girls were segregated in classrooms and assemblies, and sex education was banned.
It was also alleged that non-Muslim staff had been bullied, and in one case it was alleged that the teachings of a firebrand Al Qaeda-linked Muslim preacher praised to pupils.
Birmingham City Council today announced the six-month appointment of Mr Kershaw, managing director of Northern Education, to handle the investigation, and the council said it was also setting up a review group made up of MPs, councillors, police and faith groups.
The council’s leader, Sir Albert Bore, said the investigation was slowed by the two-tier school system, which meant that academies, which are at the centre of the allegations, were answerable not to the local authority but to the DfE, calling the situation ‘frustrating in the extreme’.
And Sir Albert suggested that the alleged Muslim extremist plot may extend beyond Birmingham, saying that his authority had spoken to councils in both Manchester and Bradford. He said: ‘There are certainly issues in Bradford which have similarities with the issues being spoken about in Birmingham.’
Fresh claims have emerged in Manchester and at Bradford’s Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College and Carlton Bolling College.An Ofsted spokesman said it had not begun inspections there, but did not rule it out.
Sir Albert also said that West Midlands Police, which has reopened a fraud inquiry into one of the schools caught up in the allegations, was still looking into the authorship of the Trojan Horse document, the authenticity of which is still unclear.
One of the schools being investigated over extremist infiltration cancelled its annual visit from Father Christmas last year. Teacher Vicky Hubble, who organized the event at the secular Ladypool Primary School, was allegedly told to cancel it by the new Muslim headmaster, Huda Aslam. He is said to have told her there would be no presents and ‘no mention’ of Jesus being the son of God.