The CEO of British non-ministerial inspector for quality in schools and learning institutions OFSTED would be taking charge on investigations about schools in Birmingham area allegedly imposing values coherent to Islamic principles and beliefs, which have created outcry for predominantly Christian society of United Kingdom.
20 April 2014 Last updated at 16:58
Ofsted chief Wilshaw takes charge of Trojan Horse
Sir Michael Wilshaw is taking charge of Ofsted’s Birmingham investigation
Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw is to take personal charge of the watchdog’s investigation into claims that a number of schools in Birmingham have been taken over by Muslim hardliners.
Ofsted has carried out inspections in 18 schools in the city.
Sir Michael is expected to go to Birmingham this week to finalise the reports from these inspections.
Ofsted and the Department for Education are expected to publish their findings in early May.
The Department for Education has ordered its own review of the evidence in the so-called Trojan Horse conspiracy.
There have been claims that a hardline Muslim faction had sought to gain influence over schools and remove staff who were not sympathetic to their religious agenda.
Ofsted has not commented on claims that leaked inspection reports show serious problems in some schools.
There have been reports of gender segregation in schools, the undermining of staff and the unfair treatment of non-Muslim pupils.
Birmingham City Council has launched its own investigation into 25 schools.
Park View Educational Trust warns against “irresponsible” speculation
But the chair of governors of one of the Birmingham schools caught up in the claims has denied that his school has faced an Ofsted inspection.
Roger King, chair of governors at Springfield primary school and a delegate at the National Union of Teachers conference in Brighton, said that Ofsted last visited the school “maybe two years ago”.
Mr King, a local NUT representative in Birmingham, said he had not come across extremism or segregation in the city’s schools.
“I can say I’ve never had a concern raised from members who have said ‘In our school they are segregating the girls from the boys’.
“We’ve never received an email about anything of that sort of thing, or that there have been inflammatory Islamic assemblies.
“I would have thought that if those things were going on they would have been brought to us.”
Mr King said there were questions about whether Ofsted was inspecting schools in an even-handed way.
“The Ofsted team were going to the staff of the school and saying ‘we’re going to fail you’ and some of the staff were saying ‘why are you failing us’ and they were saying ‘well, you’re not teaching anti-terrorism and therefore there’s a safeguarding issue in the school’.”
He said that staff were “really upset” about being asked whether they were homophobic. And girls sitting with other girls were asked whether they had been made to sit there.
In response, an Ofsted spokesman said: “Inspectors are required to uphold the highest professional standards in their work and to ensure that everyone they encounter during inspections is treated fairly and with respect. These standards are assured through a code of conduct.”
Park View Educational Trust, which runs schools linked to the allegations, also warned that it was “highly irresponsible” for anyone to suggest that schools will face interventions when neither the Department for Education or Ofsted had completed their reports – and when pupils at the secondary schools were about to take GCSEs.
Park View school served a disadvantaged area and had gone from special measures to outstanding and had a waiting list of children wanting places, said a statement.
Douglas Morgan, a teacher from Birmingham, warned the NUT conference that the inquiries could “demonise the Muslim population of this country”.
During a debate on racism and immigration Mr Morgan called for the teachers’ union conference “to send a message that we are against Islamophobia”.
The NUT is to consider an emergency debate on the Trojan Horse claims on Monday.
Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed former counter-terror chief Peter Clarke to examine whether there was any substance to the allegations.
“No pupils should be exposed to extremist views or radicalisation while at school,” said Mr Gove.
On Saturday, Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt warned against religious extremism in schools.
“We cannot have head teachers forced out, teachers undermined, curricula re-written and cultural or gender-based segregation,” he told the NASUWT teachers’ conference in Birmingham.
The inquiry has become known as Trojan Horse because this was the name of a plan for an organised take over of schools in an anonymous letter.
It has not been established whether the letter is authentic or a hoax.
The Department for Education, in a statement this weekend, said investigations into the “very serious” allegations must be “carried out impartially, without pre-judgement” and as such it would be “inappropriate to comment further”.
This came on a report, highlighted by Neo Con Jewish controlled media SkyNews about individuals allegedly in 25 schools in the Birrmingham City area in the process of being ‘Islamised’.
‘Muslim Plot’ To Take Over Schools Investigated
Over 200 complaints – including claims of segregation and bullying of non-Muslim staff – are made after a letter alleges a plot.
6:15pm UK, Monday 14 April 2014
By Lisa Dowd, Midlands Correspondent
Twenty-five schools are being investigated in connection with an alleged plot by conservative Muslims to force out headteachers and governors.
A new chief advisor is now being appointed by Birmingham City Council to handle the at least 200 complaints received in relation to Operation Trojan Horse after an unsigned, undated document was sent to the council and teaching unions last year.
It apparently set out a blueprint for seizing control of the governing bodies of schools, and forcing out those who do not agree. It claimed to have forced a change of leadership at four schools.
Whistleblowers – including former staff – have made a number of allegations against schools in Birmingham since the accusations came to light, including one claim the teachings of an al-Qaeda-linked preacher were praised in front of pupils.
Other complaints include the alleged segregation of boys and girls in lessons and assemblies, a ban on sex education and bullying of non-Muslim staff.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was “very, very concerned about allegations that taxpayer-funded schools have become vehicles of particular ideologies”.
“I have always supported faith schools but the best faith schools use their religious identity as engines of integration rather than silos of segregation,” he added.
The council’s investigation, running alongside a separate inquiry by the Department for Education (DfE), is due to initially report back in May.
At a briefing, councillors said the 25 schools being investigated in Birmingham included primaries, secondaries, community schools and academies. Fifteen of the schools have so far been inspected by Ofsted.
Birmingham City Council also confirmed that it was in contact with authorities in Bradford and Manchester who had been experiencing “similar” issues.
Sir Albert Bore, the council leader, told Sky News: “It’s about the day-to-day practices in schools we’re concerned about, it’s also the impact these allegations are having on community cohesion in Birmingham.
“Certainly there is a feeling amongst the Muslim community in Birmingham that there is a ‘hue and cry’ on at the present moment in time, we have to be concerned about that, just as we’re concerned about what is actually happening in the schools themselves.”
Councillor Brigid Jones, cabinet member for children and family services, said: “It’s a whole range of allegations, some concerning the governance of schools, some concerning the quality of teaching and everything in between, covering a period of around 20 years.
“I do worry about the children in those schools, we know they’ve felt increasing community tensions as a result of it and a lot of people have felt marginalised and stigmatised. This is something we don’t want whatsoever.”
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said there is no official investigation but they were being kept informed of developments.
Local MP Shabana Mahmood says Ofsted could have questions to answer
Khalid Mahmood, Birmingham Perry Barr, MP told Sky News: “I believe fundamentally there has been a serious bid by a very small minority trying to get under the radar against the wishes of the mainstream Muslim community.”
Mr Mahmood said he had been told of the “bullying and harassment” of senior teaching staff and governors at some of the schools involved.
He said: “What they were trying to do is change the theological beliefs of the majority of the Muslim community into a more hardline belief for young people coming through, and if you put all the schools together you’re talking somewhere in the region of 3-4,000 children and that in a community of young people coming though is huge.
“What I’ve said to them is be honest and transparent. If you want to do this then apply for a free school, say this is your ethos, this is what you want to do, and this is the way to deal with it.”
Ladywood MP Shabana Mahmood said she and her fellow Birmingham parliamentarians had written to the Government asking for it to lead any investigation, as some of the schools involved were academies and not under local authority control.
She also claimed Ofsted could have questions to answer.
“I’m in regular contact with schools in my constituency and the first I have heard is when allegations were made in the media,” Ms Mahmood told Sky News.
“I recognise disclosures have been made elsewhere and that’s why I think we need a proper process. I think there are questions here for Ofsted to answer if it’s found that some of these schools have got failing governance procedures and there have been attempts at takeovers.
“Some of these schools have been judged outstanding recently – and it begs the question, if this is found to be true, why these schools were found to be outstanding when there are problems there.”
Children in the city have been set two pieces of homework over the summer. One is entitled “What does a good inclusive education in Birmingham look like?”, the other poses the question: “What does a safe and resilient citizen of the future look like?”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The allegations made in relation to some schools in Birmingham are very serious and we are investigating all evidence put to us in conjunction with Ofsted, Birmingham City Council and the police.
“It is absolutely vital these investigations are carried out impartially, without pre-judgment. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
Homophobia is never an exclusive taboo for fundamental Muslims exclusively. Orthodox Jews and conservative Christians are also against the recent move for United Kingdom lawfully to allow gay marriages.
Daily Mail story:
Conservative UK: Almost half of Britons still oppose gay marriage
By STEVE DOUGHTY, SOCIAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT
CREATED: 22:31 GMT, 22 September 2011
UPDATED: 12:00 GMT, 13 February 2012
Most people still oppose gay marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples, a Government report revealed yesterday.
Almost half believe homosexual marriages should not be allowed and two thirds think the adoption of children by same-sex couples should not have become legal nine years ago.
The findings from the Office for National Statistics suggest the Coalition’s plans to upgrade civil partnership laws to let gay couples describe themselves as married may prove unpopular.
Lib Dem Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said last week that to deny marriage to same-sex couples was ‘simply not fair’.
But the ONS findings show many Britons still cling to conservative values and suggest Miss Featherstone’s claim that the UK is ‘a world leader in gay rights’ only applies to a minority of the population.
The report, based on sources including the annual British Social Attitudes survey and research by the EU’s Eurobarometer research arm, said only 45 per cent of British people agree that ‘homosexual marriages should be allowed throughout Europe’.
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Christian groups oppose the idea on the grounds that it undermines the rights of married couples and their children. The ONS findings suggest they may command majority support.
Since Labour’s 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations, at least ten Roman Catholic adoption agencies have ceased trying to find families for children because the law now compels them to consider offering children to gay couples.
The law, however, is out of step with opinion, the ONS report found. It put support in Britain for the proposition that ‘adoption of children should be authorised for homosexual couples throughout Europe’ at only 33 per cent, with two thirds opposed.
The ONS report said: ‘While the majority of British people now accept the concept of same-sex couples as being rarely wrong, or not wrong at all, fewer people approve of same-sex couples adopting children.
‘On average females have more liberal attitudes to same-sex partnerships than males.’ Civil partnerships for same-sex couples were first registered at the end of 2005, giving a gay couple the same legal rights as married couples.
The process for dissolution of a civil partnership is identical to the legal process of divorce.
But gay couples may not describe their partnership as a marriage.
The report said the number of civil partnerships being registered has declined after an initial rush when many couples who wanted to put their relationship on a legal footing took advantage of the new law.
There are around 1,000 civil partnerships each year.
One in 14 of the couples have children, most of whom are adopted or were born in a previous marriage or relationship.
Further to this article, we have been asked to make clear that while the ONS report did show that only a minority of Britons are in support of gay marriage, the more detailed statistics from the EU poll on which it was based suggest that the percentages for and against are about the same – 46% and 45% respectively – with a further 9% who ‘don’t know’. We are happy to clarify the position.
Obviously, these aren’t normal practices even in predominantly Muslim majority areas in the United Kingdom. Moreover in local council funded schools opened for public. At large, the conservative British public is not actually comfortable with the minority’s choice of homosexual practices.
If the ‘homophobia scare’ is actually a strategic game of Islamophobia within the United Kingdom, then it is an awful shame. Then again, study shows that anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise.
The Independent UK story:
Islamophobia: Surge revealed in anti-Muslim hate crimes
Many forces reported a particular rise in anti-Islam hate crimes following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby
TOMAS JIVANDA Friday 27 December 2013
Islamophobic hate crimes across Britain have risen dramatically this year, new figures have revealed.
Hundreds of offences were perpetrated against the country’s Muslim population in 2013, with the Metropolitan police alone – Britain’s largest force – recording 500 Islamophobic crimes, compared with 336 incidents in 2012 and 318 in 2011.
A large number of forces across the country reported a particular surge in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two Islamic extremists in Woolwich, south-east London.
In May, the month in which Fusilier Rigby was killed, Scotland Yard recorded 104 anti-Muslim hate crimes, followed by a further 108 in June.
The figures were obtained by the Press Association which sent Freedom of Information requests to every police force in England and Wales.
However of the 43 forces, just 24 provided figures on the number of anti-Muslim crimes and incidents recorded – with some forces admitting they do not always record the faith of a religious hate crime victim.
It is therefore likely that the actual numbers of incidents of hate crimes against Muslims perpetrated in 2013 was much higher.
Tell Mama, a group which monitors anti-Muslim incidents, said it has dealt with some 840 cases since just April – with the number expected to rise to more than 1,000 by the end of March.
This compared with 582 anti-Islam cases it dealt with from March 2012 to March 2013.
Fiyaz Mujhal, director of Faith Matters, which runs the Tell Mama project, said reaction to the murder of Fusilier Rigby had caused the number of Islamophobic crimes to “significantly jump”.
“The far right groups, particularly the EDL (English Defence League) perniciously use the Internet and social media to promote vast amounts of online hate,” he added.
Branding guidelines by the Crown Prosecution Service to monitor social media as “not fit for purpose”, Mr Mujhal said tougher sentencing was needed to tackle Islamophobic crime.
“They raised the bar of prosecution significantly,” he said. “Now unless there is a direct threat to somebody on Twitter or Facebook, the CPS will not prosecute. The CPS is just plainly out of sync with reality.
“We also need more robust sentencing. In one case, a pig’s head was left outside a mosque and the perpetrator came away with a community sentence. When you target a mosque, you are targeting the whole community.”
Tell Mama also called for police forces to introduce a system which improves monitoring and recording of Islamophobic crimes, ensuring the faith of a religious hate crime victim is recorded.
“There are three problems we come across,” Mr Mujhal said.
“Firstly, there is a lack of understanding of the language of Islamophobia thrown at victims in any incidents.
“Secondly, there is very little training on how to ask relevant questions to pull out anti-Muslim cases.
“Thirdly, recording processes are not in line with each other. One force will allow an officer to flag an incident as anti-Muslim, another force will flag it as religious hate crime. There is no uniformity.
“There must be guidelines for all forces so we can know the level of the problem.”
A CPS spokeswoman said that for online communications, only those that are “grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false” are prohibited in order to “preserve the right to free speech”.
“Online communication can be offensive, shocking or in bad taste. However, as set out in CPS guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media, content has to be more than simply offensive to be contrary to the criminal law,” she said.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has previously said over five days after Fusilier Rigby was murdered 71 anti-Muslim incidents were reported to its national community tension team.
Superintendent Paul Giannasi, Acpo’s spokesman on hate crime, said: “The police service is committed to reducing the harm caused by hate crime and it is vital that we encourage more victims who suffer crimes to report them to the police or through third party reporting facilities such as Tell Mama.
“We would obviously want overall crime levels to reduce and to see fewer victims, but we welcome increases in reported hate crime, as long as they are a sign of increased confidence of victims to report.
“We are working with local police forces, to help improve the way we respond to hate crime and to provide robust and transparent hate crime data.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “These are despicable crimes that devastate lives and communities. The courts already hand out tougher punishments where race or religion are found to be aggravating factors.”
“The number of people receiving a custodial sentence for these appalling crimes is higher than ever before.”
Additional reporting from Press Association
Islamophobia in the United Kingdom from the growth of Muslim population is actually an irony reflecting on the illustrious British Empire history. Throughout 200 years of British Empire rule on one-third of the land on this planet which systematically ended 50 years ago, Christianity and Christian values have been spread and thought as guiding principles towards a modern and civil society.
Probably a fraction of British Christians have changed their minds on principles such as homosexuality, particularly the past two decades with growing demands for universal rights fighting for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (LGBT) minority and some people within United Kingdom have opened up for the liberalisation of their conservative values.
The fact still remains majority if not almost wholly of any Muslim communities which uphold the fundamental beliefs and principles of Islam and teachings of Al Quran and Hadith, even in more advanced societies such as the United Kingdom subscribe to traditional values of rejecting LGBT.
Birmingham native writer Assed Baig said it best via The Huffington Post on the recent Islamophobia in Birmingham:
The Muslim Plot That Wasn’t
Posted: 07/04/2014 15:28
A secret document purporting to expose an undercover Muslim conspiracy to take over schools in Birmingham hit national news recently, prompting journalists to fall over themselves heralding a sinister ‘Islamic plot’, while eliciting both public statements from the Prime Minister and snap Ofsted inspections for the places of learning allegedly targeted by the conspirators.
From the outset I would like to be clear about my interest in the subject. I grew up in Birmingham, in the areas where some of these schools are based. I know Park View, one of the places mentioned, very well. I used to play football there once a week in the evenings as a teenager, and trained on the astro turf on Friday nights with Alum Rock FC. I still have family and friends playing for the local side. I also remember the reputation of Park View. It was the last place you wanted to go to school, it was the last place most parents in the area wanted to send their children and those of my friends were educated there would admit it with embarrassment.
The school since then has completely turned around. It is regarded as outstanding. There is a waiting list to get into the school. But now this so-called plot has overshadowed the school’s achievements and the hard work of those that have helped it progress. Its success is particularly worthy of celebration due to the fact that it has now become a place where people from poorer backgrounds can develop a brighter future; 72% of the school children are on free school meals. Journalists usually fail to mention this and the fact that the school is in one of the most economically deprived areas of Birmingham.
Rather, the emphasis is fixed around religion and culture. The narrative attached to this story fits neatly into the anti-Muslim rhetoric that we have seen increasing over the years. For those that buy into Islamophobic paradigms this is a gift: what more could any self-respected bigot want as vindication for their beliefs than the exposure of a clandestine plot by Muslim hardliners to oust non-Muslim heads and staff and replace them with Muslim fundamentalists? A plot to segregate girls from boys. Girls forced to wear headscarves – it has all the makings of a racist melodrama and an EDL wet dream.
There’s only one problem: none of it is true.
The letter that stirred up the recent hysteria about the school is an unattributed, undated text, unsigned by anyone- a fact that seems to have been completely overlooked by those journalists braying for the blood of Muslims of late.
How many Muslims do you need for a plot? Two? Three? Or more? What constitutes a plot? There is a very sinister Islamophobic narrative taking place here, one that, for all intents and purposes, accuses an entire minority community of surreptitiously plotting away to infiltrate the country’s institutions and changing its very values, or so we are led to believe. Would journalists ever call something a ‘Jewish plot’ or ‘Christian plot’? Should we now re-visit the Gunpowder plot and rename it the ‘Roman-Catholic plot’? Why is the religion of the governors and students been mentioned as if it were any worthier of emphasis than Guy Fawkes’ faith? Why does this become the central issue?
I’ve spoken to teachers at the school, as well as parents and governors. There is no forced segregation. Children sit where they want and- shock! Horror!- teenage boys want to sit with their male friends and girls sit with their female friends. The issue appears to be gaining so much focus simply because the children are Muslim. Arabic is taught in school, for a simple reason: it’s actually the preferred option by students.
Regarding the claims that a teacher praised the extremist preacher Anwar Awlaki in a school assembly- I have yet to find any evidence of this. We do not know when this has supposedly taken place and which staff member said it. Yet it has been broadly taken as gospel truth and ‘evidence’ of the claims of pro-terrorist Muslim scheming.
Let us look at a few facts that contradict the dominant narrative at hand about Park View: the executive principle is not a Muslim, the assistant principle is not Muslim but the acting principle is a Muslim. Surely if there was a ‘plot’ taking place all the heads of the school would be Muslim, instead the executive principle is a white non-Muslim woman. She must be a crypto-Muslim agent no doubt.
In the last 17 years all three permanent appointments at the school for head teacher have been non-Muslims. If this plot started 20 years ago as it is claimed, then where are the Muslim heads?
Tahir Alam, chair of governors at Park View, is named in the letter and ‘plot’. Mr Alam for years has tried to get Muslim parents involved in the education of their children. He has made no secret about this, he has held public events and told parents the importance of participation. The Muslim community often gets criticised for not engaging but when they do they are accused of infiltration, plots and extremism.
According to one BBC report a former teacher, Mike White, said the plot started 20 years ago. White was removed for gross misconduct and he took the school to a tribunal but lost. What the BBC fails to mention is that when Mr White was head of maths only one in 120 students got a C grade. Now, 99 out of 120 students get a C+ grade.
BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme did a report on the school. A journalist accosted students and asked them if they were forced to wear the hijab- you know, because this school is run by the Taliban, where every woman must cover themselves in order to appease their fastidious schoolmasters. This biased and loaded piece of so-called journalism also claimed that there were no pictures of girls and boys together in the school. The reporter was either blind or deliberately neglected to mention the fact that the school demonstrably displays pictures of boys and girls together and that several people have refuted her claim- but why let facts get in the way when you are on a mission to prove that there is a plot, however low your journalistic standards have to sink in order to do this?
We all know from former Daily Star reporter, Richard Peppiatt, how the drive for anti-Muslim stories in the press can lead to a skewing of facts or just simply making things up.
I do not have much hope in the Ofsted report either. I have already spoken to parents and was shocked by the questions that Ofsted and Department of Education investigators have been asking students and teachers. “Are you forced to wear that scarf,” they asked one girl who was wearing a long skirt, “Isn’t it very difficult for you to move around?”. One teacher was asked, “Are you homophobic?”, because all Muslims must be homophobic, right?
There is extremism is schools, I agree and accept this. Extremism exists in schools were parents pay tens of thousands a year to have their boys segregated from girls. Where an ideology of superiority is taught, where young rich boys are taught that it is their God given right to rule over the commoners. Where a skewed version of history is taught, colonialism was a good thing and the empire brought good to the world and civilized the savages. In these schools boys are forced to learn Latin, not Arabic. But we won’t see or hear politicians talking of that kind of extremism or segregation, we won’t see journalists peering through windows there, because it is not Muslims involved. Extremism of the rich is applauded, not questioned.
I would like to thank the teachers, governors and staff at Park View school. I would like to thank them for giving hope to so many children from a deprived area, an area I grew up in. I wish I had had this hope as a youngster. I would like to thank them for making the children believe that they can achieve and making them feel comfortable as themselves. I would like to thank them for going to such a school and not leaving it to fail, when so many others are willing to spend a short stint at an inner-city school and then move on once they have the ‘diversity’ and ‘difficult’ school on their CV’s. I would like to thank them for caring about children that once no one cared about- because no one thought we were capable of achieving anything.
Theirs is a story that should have made the news for this reason, long before they were smeared by a press addicted to sensationalist, dog-whistle journalism- which a growing market of uncritical bigots will happily pay to read.
The true teachings of Islam from practices demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad SAW the Messenger of Allah is about inclusivity. Discriminatory isn’t the practice of what progressive Muslims especially in the United Kingdom are holding firmly onto. Especially, when their beliefs and values are challenged in the tone of politicising Homophobia, at the expense of the indirect promotion of Islamophobia.
This is a test case for the British Government.
The 5% British Muslim is definitely far bigger in number as compared to the practitioners and hard core supporters of LGBT in the United Kingdom. If the push comes to shove, the odds for holding onto beliefs and principles of Islam as per in the Al Quran and Hadith and Sunnah overwhelms any support upholding universal rights even for the LGBT minority.
That is without doubt, is a fact.