Trojan Horse – Kershaw finds no evidence of take-over plot but says concerns about behaviour of some men promoting “certain Islamic principles” need immediate attention

Janet Downs's picture
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SUMMARY
The issues raised by the Trojan Horse letter do not “significantly affect” the majority of the 437 Birmingham state schools, Ian Kershaw found. It was important to keep this context in mind, Kershaw cautioned.

There were elements of the “Five Steps” listed in the Trojan Horse letter* in a large number** of the sixteen schools investigated. Patterns of behaviour were commonly present and it was, therefore, “reasonable to infer” there were links between individuals. But there was no evidence to date to confirm there was a systematic plot to take over schools, Kershaw concluded. He found “no evidence of a conspiracy to promote an anti-British agenda, violent extremism or radicalisation”.

However, Kershaw identified behaviour which in dry terms was described as not complying with local authority and school governance legal obligations. Kershaw refers to governors who may have a “genuine and understandable” desire to improve education offered to Muslim children. This often goes as far as wanting Muslim children to be taught solely by Muslim teachers in schools governed by Muslim leaders. To this end, such “activists” have used governorship to effect change in their schools. Their actions caused conflict between heads, other staff members and other governors.

Although Kershaw found no evidence about a systematic plot to take control of schools, he outlined concerns which required “immediate attention”. These arose from the actions of some men of Pakistani heritage who were promoting “certain Islamic principles” and putting their interests before those of the children.

The problem was worsened by “weaknesses” in systems surrounding school governance and failings by Birmingham City Council (BCC) which was aware of some of the problems but didn’t spot others. On some occasions, BCC made the problem worse by paying off heads using compromise agreements profligately rather than address difficult issues for fear of being accused of racism.

Although Kershaw’s remit was only to investigate BCC, he also criticised Ofsted for failing to discover “dysfunctional governance” and unbalanced curricula. Ofsted does not inspect "good financial management" or whether governance is adequate. If this supervision is not done by BCC (or by the DfE in academies) then poor governance will go unnoticed. Kershaw stressed the importance of stakeholders (eg BCC, Ofsted, the DfE and the Education Funding Agency) sharing information. Communication between them is “critical” for early intervention but Kershaw found it had not happened “in any consistent manner”.

COMMENTARY

Kershaw listed 21 recommendations. Although they are specific to BCC some have a broader significance. For example, Kershaw says BBC should consider debating the legal requirement for secular schools to have a daily act of collective worship which is “wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character”. This is a debate which is long overdue for all schools. He also recommended that BCC consult with the DfE about the suitability and capability of academy sponsors. Again, this should be a national debate – it is the DfE which approves academy sponsors and matches them with schools. Concerns have already been raised about due diligence and fast-tracked approval. Perhaps the new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan should consider including local authorities in decisions around school sponsorship instead of acting as if their views on who runs schools in their areas are irrelevant. She should also reflect on whether due diligence is taken when giving approval to academy sponsors.

*The “Five Steps” are listed in full in paragraph 16 of the Kershaw report.

**Kershaw’s findings about the sixteen schools will be given in a separate post.

UPDATE 17.40 The above has been updated to make it clear which is a summary of Kershaw and which contains my comments.
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Comments

agov's picture
Wed, 23/07/2014 - 10:40

"Ofsted does not inspect financial management of whether governance is adequate."

Sorry Janet, I don't think that is quite correct -

Subsidiary guidance, January 2014: -

104.Inspectors should also satisfy themselves that the governing body is ensuring that the school’s finances are properly managed, and investigate governors’ role in deciding how the school is using the pupil premium, the Year 7 catch-up premium, or the new primary school sport funding


By the way, not that I would say 'Muslims' are a race, but as some people seem prone to see any criticism of Muslims as racist, would that mean it's racist to be "wanting Muslim children to be taught solely by Muslim teachers in schools governed by Muslim leaders "?

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 23/07/2014 - 12:26

agov- I was summarising Kershaw (I've now put the words in quotes to make it clear and corrected the typo). The only comments by me are in the last paragraph.

However, you're right that Ofsted is supposed to check governors ensure finances are properly managed and how they monitor pupil premium and primary sport funding. But Kershaw seems to be of the opinion this expectation is insufficient (see paragraph 55 of Kershaw's report).

Kershaw seemed to think it was a step too far for Muslims to expect Muslim children to be taught solely by Muslims in schools run by Muslims. Whether this implies "racism" on behalf of the Muslims who put forward this view is arguable. It's certainly narrow-minded and denies children the right to hear alternative views and to learn about other religions or ways of looking at the world.

rogertitcombe's picture
Wed, 23/07/2014 - 17:17

No parent should be allowed to insist or apply any sort of pressure to ensure that the school that their child attends provides only teachers of the same religion or to insist that a head, other senior staff or governors be of a particular religion.

I agree with Richard Dawkins. There is no such think as a 'Muslim child' or a child of any other religion. A young person must be free to adopt the religion of their choice, or none when they become adult regardless of the religion of their parents. Threats, intimidation or actual assault on children or adults to make them conform to religious expectations should result in prosecution. In my view this includes schools forcing a child or to take part in religious ceremonies or worship. Parents bringing children up within a religious tradition is OK but within reason. There must be no physical 'branding' or bodily mutilation of children for religious purposes. The legal acceptability of other forms of religious 'bringing up' should be judged by the appropriate public authorities based on the most recent case law. Unreasonable social pressures by parents and relatives on children to comply with religious traditions should be resisted on a social basis by other members of the family and friends. For example the daughter of good friends of ours that are devout RC, married a non RC man albeit in an RC church. Her paternal grandfather disapproved so much he would not attend the wedding ceremony. How the family dealt with that is obviously a private matter but the grandfather was not allowed to veto the marriage or obstruct good relationships between the in-laws. That is what I mean by social action.

I think these things are so important that they should be expressed by the state in some formal way perhaps in the form of a Bill of Rights. Many would see this as unnecessary because of the longstanding traditions of tolerance in the UK, but recent activities and expressed aspirations of sections of Islamic communities in the UK suggest to me that we do indeed need a 'Bill of Rights' type statement to prevent future inter-cultural misunderstandings and so promote genuine multicultural harmony.

Barry Wise's picture
Thu, 24/07/2014 - 10:34

Kershaw finds no evidence of take-over plot.

It seems odd that Kershaw should find NO evidence, yet Peter Clarke should find plenty of evidence of a conspiracy or plot. Clarke is, of course, a trained detective so he would have the edge I suppose. Still, it seems rather short-sighted of Kershaw to miss so much that was under his nose.


Roger -

There is no such think as a ‘Muslim child’ or a child of any other religion.
I well remember being a 'Jewish child' (both in terms of elective and ascribed identity) and think you may be seriously underestimating the role of religion in the formation of identity - particularly among immigrant groups living in a social cluster with co-religionists.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 24/07/2014 - 12:16

Barry - Kershaw and Clarke actually shared evidence to avoid interviewing witnesses twice and duplicating information. What Kershaw said was all the "Five Steps" were present in some of the schools and "elements" of the "Five Steps" were present in others (or there was a "possibility" of their presence). These are outlined in more detail in my more recent thread.

Kershaw also said there were clear patterns of behaviour which were so common it was reasonable to infer there were links between the individuals concerned. However, he concluded, "...there is little express evidence to which I can point of a systematic plot or common plan to take over schools serving students of predominantly Muslim faith or background."

Clarke, using the same evidence, comes to a different conclusion (the subject of my next thread): he said there had been a "determined effort" to gain control of governing bodies at a small number of schools by people associated with each other.

I've no idea why both men could come to different conclusions: "no systematic plot" on the one hand, and "determined effort" on the other. Perhaps (and this is speculation) the "plot" grew on an ad-hoc basis fomented by individuals "determined" to impose their narrow-minded view on schools and flatter their egos at the same time as their dominance increased.

Clarke quotes verbatim what Tahir Alam said to him about the Trojan Horse letter:

‘So let’s look at the claim – the other assertion is that I actually have been in a very stealthy fashion, in a very smart fashion, I sort of like the feeling, if you know what I mean that I was sophisticated and powerful and whatever, and all the rest of it. My ego was raised by that of course, but unfortunately, none of the facts are true really, so there you go’.

But as Clarke found, the facts were true.




agov's picture
Thu, 24/07/2014 - 12:17

Then sorry for my misunderstanding, Janet.

It's true - I hadn't (and haven't) read the report.

I have now read paragraph 55. Does he actually know anything about what Ofsted do or was he just guessing? -

"Ofsted does not inspect good financial management, the quality, breadth and balance of a school's curriculum offer to students, or the adequacy of governance generally."

If I were BCC I'd be thinking about asking for my money back and asking someone else to produce a report.

Janet Downs's picture
Thu, 24/07/2014 - 12:45

agov - the misunderstanding was quite understandable - it comes from trying to compress a 140 page document into about 500 words.

I'm not sure how Kershaw came to the conclusion that Ofsted inspectors don't look at financial management when they do. Perhaps (only speculation) he thought they didn't go far enough. If you look at Ofsted reports the Governance section is short and tends to contain the same stuff.

I looked at five Ofsted reports of full inspections for secondary schools (academies and non-academies) published last week. All five mentioned the governing body's oversight of how Pupil Premium money was spent eg "evaluate use of Pupil Premium" or "well-informed" about how it's used. One said the gov body kept a "close eye on the school's finances", and another said the gov body had a "firm hold on the budget".

I don't know whether this goes as far as Kershaw would think desirable. Seems a bit superficial.

Clarke doesn't mention Ofsted, governors and financial oversight. However, he does say the Ofsted framework needs tightening so inspectors can spot whether governors are doing all they should to prevent extremist views etc. And he also says Ofsted need to be more alert to problems which might occur when the composition of governing bodies change.

agov's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 09:18

My impression of what Ofsted do re things like finance is to get a feel for what's going on, then if they think there are problems they will look more deeply. That may or may not be sufficient.

Kershaw saying that Ofsted don't look at finance (or the adequacy of governance generally) at all, when they should and do, makes it seem like he does not know what he is talking about and is one reason for doubting the validity of his entire report.

Not quite sure what Clarke would want Ofsted to actually do. My understanding is that action to prevent or counter extremist views should be proportionate i.e. if there isn't a problem there doesn't need to be a response. What exactly would inspectors do, and how long would they spend doing it, if, hypothetically, governors have a covert agenda with staff, students and parents intimidated or in agreement with it? - All governors to have all excursions onto social media secretly monitored by Ofsted thought police?

How would Ofsted exercise this alertness regarding GB changes, issue questionnaires? - 'Are you now or have you ever been an extremist'?

rogertitcombe's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 10:53

agov - The solution is to effectively regulate all schools in relation to attempts by anybody, teachers, parents, governors or Academy Sponsors or Chains to corrupt the compulsory secular core of the national education system that must be taught to all pupils regardless of parental race or religion. If that secular core needs to be more clearly defined then so be it. Obviously there is no place for any kind of 'worship' within the compulsory core.

Note that this does not threaten faith schools at all. They can do what they like (within reason) IN ADDITION TO the secular core that should include factual teaching about what followers of different religions believe and how they practise worship with a reformed National Curriculum that obviously includes a comprehensive core science course along with citizenship and PSHE. What they must not do is REPLACE any of that with their own versions.

All Ofsted and LAs have to do is police the regulations.

rogertitcombe's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 10:59

agov - I don't think anybody should be policing political extremism in schools. Teachers are not allowed to put across party, sectarian or partisan point of view now. The law is clear about incitement to violence and racial hatred. It just needs to be enforced. Trying to decide what constitutes 'extremism' is a very dangerous first step down the road to state totalitarian control of the education system as practised by Hitler and Stalin. The 1944 Education Act was specifically intended to prevent the state having such a role.


rogertitcombe's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 11:06

Barry - It is a fundamental tenet of the Enlightenment that parents do not own their children. This means that parents have a protection and stewardship role, not control. Responsible stewardship requires allowing all children to have a broad and balanced education and freedom of/from religion when they become adults. I accept there are many religious communities in the UK that find that difficult. They should have to adjust.


Barry Wise's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 19:23

Roger - why not apply the same principle to other aspects of identity - nationality, say?
I wonder how far you'd get though with an assertion like there's no such thing as an English child...

rogertitcombe's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 20:28

Barry - No one is suggesting that children of different nationalities should have a different curriculum in English state schools (I hope). The huge majority of children attending British state schools are British anyway, regardless of where they or their parents were born. An exception was a large group of Kosovar refugee children that attended my headship school in the 1990s. Their parents were all Muslims and did not expect their children to be treated differently in our school in any way based on their ethnicity, nationality or religion of the parents. I am pleased to say that many of the children are now very successful and fully integrated UK nationals although in some cases I had a personal role in bringing this about by attending deportation hearings and successfully arguing for the right of the children and their parents to remain. This may not please UKIP, but I am very proud our Kosovar children and the part played by our school in giving them a happy and successful new life.


rogertitcombe's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 20:33

Barry - I fail to see your point. The nationality status of a person, child or adult, is stated in their passport. Of course there are British, French, American etc children.


Barry Wise's picture
Fri, 25/07/2014 - 21:18

No, Roger - absolutely no one has "English" written in their passport. The civic identity of people in this country is "British". That is precisely why I chose English as an example. It is more of a cultural identity - comparable perhaps to "Jewish", "Catholic" and other religious identities with social and cultural dimensions. Which was my original point.


rogertitcombe's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 08:55

Barry - I still fail to see your point. That is because English, Welsh, Scottish etc is not a nationality in any international formal sense. When it is asked for on-line you have to click UK. I know in the football World Cup the home 'nations' put up separate teams but that is really an anomaly that the rest of the world puts up with. It doesn't apply to the Olympic Games. Scottish may become a nationality after the referendum, but English won't. I know some people get excited about this and like to start trouble but it doesn't bother me a bit.

However I do relish and celebrate regional cultural identities including aspects of Englishness. I think this applies across the UK. I think people from the Northern or Western Isles tend to value their regional identity as highly as their 'national' one as do those from Cornwall, Lancashire and Yorkshire for example. I know sometimes there are connections with religion as in Ireland but this is always an a bad thing and one of the reasons why schools must not take any account whatever of parents' religions, which is the point you are arguing with me about. Most regional identity has nothing to do with religion, or ethnicity. I love to hear black Brummies of all religions sound forth in our rich local tongue (think Lenny Henry) and regard this as a mark of the success of multicultural integration. This requires all children of both sexes to be taught together in the same comprehensive schools with the same curriculum and it means standing up to parents who want divisions created for their own religious reasons. There is already far too much segregation that needs rolling back.

I also support devolution including educational services but there is no one proposing that children with English born parents in Welsh schools should be treated any differently to children of Welsh born parents in the same school, or in the parallel situation in Scotland. Don't be confused by exam language choices in Welsh schools. These are not constrained by the Welshness or Englishness of parents - cross contamination is permitted.

I also realise that this is a personal matter that many will disagree with me about. So be it. I am not a nationalist in any strong political sense and deplore nationalism of both the fascist and socialist varieties.

If I have missed your point again I am sorry but I just don't get it. UK state schools should be 'blind' to the ethnicity and nationality of their children and also to their parent's religion. That is not to say all children should be treated the same. To each according to needs, from each according to ability would be my maxim. That Karl Marx was a wise old sod in many respects.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 09:31

"It is a fundamental tenet of the Enlightenment", and your point is? Are you suggesting that we are all regulated/governed/constrained by an Enlightenment tenet? I was completely unaware that this was a statutory obligation. I suspect that very many would not subscribe to the the proposition of parents being the stewards of their children. Where does responsibility for raising, caring, nurturing and providing a family framework within which to grow-up and develop. To me this is rather more expansive and complex than stewardship.

The bland and undefined assertion that parents should have no "control" over their children is similarly flawed.

agov's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 09:52

Applying that admirable approach to the 'Trojan' governors in Birmingham, how much of a case against them actually remains? Presumably they would not be unique in supposing they knew the magic formula for getting good exam results?


agov's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 09:54

"Scottish may become a nationality after the referendum, but English won’t "

Perhaps -

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10093611/British-identity-is-wani...

Barry Wise's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 09:55

Roger - I chose the example of denying nationality because I thought it so absurd you would be unable to avoid the parallel absurdity of denying another major constituent of cultural identity for many people - faith.

However, I see you don't see the absurdity of your position at all. Indeed, you reinforce with your statement

UK state schools should be ‘blind’ to the ethnicity and nationality of their children and also to their parent’s religion.

So, does this mean no Black History Month? No celebrating Diwali? Should our schools say no to steel bands and all other expressions of Caribbean culture?

It all seems a stripped out, minimalist, vanilla kind of education to me.

You say you are not nationalist in any way, yet the fact you are effectively ruling out all cultural expression that is not English, secular regionalism is nativistic to an extreme I haven't heard before within the profession.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 09:58

National status is a fluid concept. That is to say in recent times new countries have been recognised by the UN e.g. South Sudan and the Ukraine. What happens if the Northern reaches of the UK votes for independence? We get a new sovereign state called Scotland.

For that matter my passport states British/EU citizen but to be blunt I see myself as being English/British.

The whole issue of identity (personal through to national) is a rather complex arena. Take regions into account and the depth of the issues start to unfold (e.g. Yorkshire, Cumbrian, Northumbrian, SE, Cornish). each of these contain variations of a theme on values and what is acceptable/unacceptable within community/society.

rogertitcombe's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 11:48

Barry - My position does not imply anything that you suggest it does. I am not ruling out any cultural expression. Of course different cultural traditions can and should be respected and celebrated in schools. The point is that ALL children celebrate ALL of them TOGETHER. Where have I suggested or implied ruling out all cultural expression that is not English?

I am nationalistic to the extent of supporting England at football and regionalist to the extent of supporting Aston Villa. The latter generates more passion for me than the former but both have been extremely unrewarding of late.

rogertitcombe's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 12:08

Andy - I have my pro-Enlightenment views. The Enlightenment gave rise to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights which all Western European democracies strongly relate to. Your views may have a different source. That is a big gulf at the root of our many other disagreements that involve science and religion. I am not denying your right to your views. My interpretation of stewardship includes raising, caring, nurturing and providing a family framework in which to grow up and develop. The degree of 'control' that it is reasonable for a parent to exert over children depends on age and circumstances. I am sure we can agree that it is possible to envisage extremes that would not be acceptable, but we might differ on where the lines should be drawn. In England secular Family Courts make such (often difficult) decisions. I am happy with that.


rogertitcombe's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 12:11

agov - A very considerable case as Janet and Andy (I agree with him here) point out.


Andy V's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 12:32

It comes down to how initial statements are couched and your amplification says rather more than the original sentence you used.

I fail to see how you reach your allusion to me holding anti-enlightenment views or that I am more allied to religion than science? Rather I prefer a more open philosophical position that is open to change and the acceptance of not knowing as opposed to dogmatics. Neither have I ever mooted any notion that I am against the prevailing secular nature of the nations legal systems.

Andy V's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 12:54

The debate here is beginning to focus on what Ofsted should be inspecting and to what extent. It strikes me that previous SoS Educ's attempts to bring Ofsted more closely in line with the LRRA (e.g. shorter, focused inspections as opposed to one-size fits all, removal of formal requirement for a SEF, light touch tariffs and closer focus on less than grade 2 schools) has led to a situation where a small team inspecting for 2-days is simply insufficient for the perceived remit. That is to say, the emerging focus on British values, equality, governance, curricular breadth and balance and finance effectively needs a combination of an expanded team and longer inspection e.g. 3 - 4 days. This could be counter balanced by longer gaps between inspections for those schools that clearer attain acceptable levels in these core areas.

Additionally, the third tier, should be inspected through the same set of lens. Easy for LAs but chains/sponsors also need to be placed under this purview. It is interesting to note that in relation to the latter this what the governments latest consultation seems to working toward (i.e. the independent schools, free schools, academies and their proprietors being accountable for the issues involved and all ISPs must ensure schools meet the standards e.g. Ofsted, ISI, SIS, Bridge IS):

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...

Barry Wise's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 12:56

The point is that ALL children celebrate ALL of them TOGETHER.

So where does that leave the teaching of, say, heritage languages? Does the whole school really have to learn Urdu together?

Equal treatment does not/should not mean identical treatment.

For instance, for all you say, I doubt you really took NO account of the ethnicity/religion/nationality of your Kosovar refugees and treated them exactly as if they were Cumbrian farm kids. That would have been madness.

rogertitcombe's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 13:43

Barry - Schools have Option Systems in KS4. Options mean pupils can choose between different languages to study. However you raise an important point. I don't see too much point in pupils that already speak a language other than English that their parents are mother tongue speakers of, choosing to take a GCSE in that language rather say a European language that is new to them and which therefore broadens their education. I know schools sometimes encourage this as it boosts C grade passes.

As for the Kosovar pupils they really were treated identically. Our school responded to the individual learning needs of all our pupils. I do not recall that these children having English as a second language raised many difficulties. There was also some LA provided support for the families. Naturally the school liaised with this service. The GCSE results of the Kosovar pupils were on average better than those of the local children. Many went on to take A Levels at the local 6th Form College and then Universities.

My Cumbrian school was in the urban centre of an industrial town. We had no farmer's children!

David Barry's picture
Sat, 26/07/2014 - 17:43

Actually Janet, having read Clarke's report, while he explains that evidence was shared between Kershaw and Clarke, not all of it was; and it seems to me that whereas Kershaw spotted circumstantial reasons for suspecting co ordination bettween actors, but did not find the actual evidence to support this, Clarke, the "copper" did. The two reports compliment rather than contradicting each other.

Kershaw did NOT find there was "no plot". He found NO EVIDENCE of a plot. You have been quite careful yourself in your own re wording of his findings. Then Clarke found the evidence. There was a plot.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 07:27

Daivd - you're right that not all the evidence was shared as I make clear in the footnote to my thread of Clarke (which I hadn't read when I did the Kershaw threads). But most of it was, as Clarke makes clear.

I was responded to Barry's comment implying Kershaw was blinkered whereas the "copper" winkled out more evidence. This view is shared by the NAHT, according to the BBC, who said people were put off giving evidence to Kershaw because they had to give their names. But Clarke also asked for names (although requests not to share evidence with a third party were respected).

The criticism seemed to one of methodology: Kershaw (according to one witness) asked witnesses to give evidence on a blank piece of paper while Clarke asked focused questions arising from info they had on her and her school "going back years".

This raises several questions:
(a) Where did this info come from?
(b) How was it obtained (legitimately via, say, Ofsted, or covertly through general surveillance on a group of people, ie head teachers)?
(c) If not through legitimate means, who authorised this surveillance?
(c) Why was info being collected on a head and her school?
(d) If info was known "going back years", who held the info and why wasn't it acted upon?


Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 07:43

Andy - you'll be pleased to know the Sutton Trust has recommended that Ofsted is given powers to inspect Academy Chains in the same way as it inspects LAs. More details here:


agov's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 10:52

That headteacher didn't seem concerned about the questioning (Today programme 22 July) -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b049yhcl

(There are three interviews starting at about 1hr.31mins in, with the HT at about 1.33)

'I didn't feel it was an investigation into me or my school, it was just incredibly well researched'

She had mentioned governor minutes. The implication was that the info was all in the public domain.

She also said that her school had problems a few years ago but not all from governors - a few parents but also 'community activists' who stood at the school gate asking women why they were not wearing head scarves.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 12:03

Agov - thanks for the link. The head describes behaviours which were listed by Clarke (and Anderton was named by Clarke despite what the presenter on Today said twice). Clarke says he found evidence of their being present at Anderton (although the head said they were historic):

1 Bullying
2 Unusual/inappropriate appointments
3 Attempts to introduce an Islamic character
4 Discriminatory policies
5 Inappropriate governor behaviour.

Clarke found no evidence that Anderton's complaints to BCC had not been acted upon. Nor was there any evidence of sympathy to extremist views at Anderton. Clarke found the latter was confined to two of the fourteen schools he named: Park View Academy and Golden Hillock.

Note: Kershaw categorised schools according to whether they adhered to the Five Steps listed in the Trojan Horse letter. These are not the same as the seven categorises used by Clarke. Clarke found it was "possible" that Anderton had been exposed to two of the Five Steps: install governors to instill Islamic values and instigate campaign of pressure.

I'm now persuaded, thanks to your link, that there wasn't anything dodgy about the way Clarke gathered information.

rogertitcombe's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 13:45

'She also said that her school had problems a few years ago but not all from governors – a few parents but also ‘community activists’ who stood at the school gate asking women why they were not wearing head scarves.'

This is appalling intimidation and in my view extremely sinister. It smacks of public religious vigilantism. Anybody harassing parents about anything at a school gate needs to be taken very seriously. Whether or not they were committing a specific criminal offence the police should have been informed and the offenders warned off.

This is the thin end of a very dangerous wedge leading to theocratic social control as we are seeing in other parts of the world where political Islam is gaining a hold. It needs a clear and firm response.

rogertitcombe's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 13:54

Andy and agov - One of my sons-in-law sees himself as Yorkshire/British. This is media silly season leading-question-survey stuff.


Andy V's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 19:41

Media silly season or no ,national identity is far from simple and cannot be circumscribed by the status-label ascribed on a passport. Barry, rightly in my view, holds that because a persons passport may say British it doesn't stop them being English or that English children don't exist. I would say that this applies equally to those of Welsh, Scottish and Irish extraction.


Andy V's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 19:59

It is disquieting that while Kershaw appears to have overlooked BCC's blanket use of 'gagging orders' in relation to employees driven out of their jobs at schools impacted by the Trojan Horse activities Clarke didn't. I could be forgiven then for questioning whether Kershaw's employers had a hand in this omission?

"The unnamed teacher said: “It’s quite clear what the compromise agreement says. It’s clear that I should not speak out about it to anybody or show the agreement to anybody.”
Peter Clarke, the former head of the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism branch, also raised concerns about the inappropriate use of compromise agreements in the last of the inquiry reports published this week.
His report found the practice was used at three schools, the first time the extent of such agreements has been detailed."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10986151/Council-gagg...

It seems to me that BCC has some rather serious questions to answer regarding their conduct.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 20:21

Thanks Janet, I'd already seen your thread at the link and welcome the fact that it now seems the SoS and Minister for Education will be rather more willing to allow SMW to have his way regarding inspecting independent schools. As a first step I'd be very happy to see the Bridge IS have their contract withdrawn (or more likely not renewed next year) and as appears to happening already Ofsted assume direct responsibility. This would be a major step in scrutinising the curricular delivery of ACE schools.


rogertitcombe's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 21:04

Andy - You may be right about national identity - Englishness etc - but so what?
English, Welsh, Yorkshire, Brummie, Cornish children etc, all over the UK, in the same schools should be treated the same with no differentiation or segregation on the basis of nationality, pseudo-nationality or religion - the latter being the pertinent issue.

Andy V's picture
Sun, 27/07/2014 - 21:29

The educational experience of pupils attending non-denomination state funded schools should essentially be the same. In terms of free schools, academies, faith and LA schools the heart of the core curriculum should be compulsory as should the conformity of wearing school uniforms (i.e. items that have no direct/explicit/mandatory religious requirement - such as the Sikh turban - are not worn). With regard to the curriculum I welcome the consultation launched by Lord Hill - see my comments and links at 12.54 on 26 Jul.


rogertitcombe's picture
Mon, 28/07/2014 - 07:48

Andy - We appear to agree and I am not going to test this by bringing up any borderline specifics. For me the areas of agreement between almost all of us that have contributed to this and related threads, which are about matters of the utmost seriousness, are more important than our differences especially with regard to any wider influence that LSN may have.


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 28/07/2014 - 09:28

Andy - Kershaw did mention BCC's use of compromise agreements. He said BCC made the governor intimidation problem worse with its "profligate use of compromise agreements" when it should have supported heads (see para 11).

You're right that BCC present and past administrations have lots of questions to answer. So does the DfE although we've got to wait for the internal report into what it knew and when. Interestingly, Clarke listed more recommendations for the DfE than BCC, critical though he was (see faqs above where I've listed all the recommendations).

Andy V's picture
Mon, 28/07/2014 - 16:02

Janet, thank you for bringing me back onto the straight and narrow. That'll teach me to skim read!

A key issue for me is the apparent spineless nature of the BCC officers who seem to have placed a greater value both on avoiding false accusations of racism and retaining votes from the Muslim electorate. This is does a grave disservice to pupils, the reputation of both the city and the moderate Muslim majority. Shame on the BCC culprits, abject shame.

Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 28/07/2014 - 17:06

Andy - Khalid Mahmood MP used parliamentary privilege in the debate on B'ham schools to name some officials at BCC who he thought should have their actions investigated.


Andy V's picture
Mon, 28/07/2014 - 19:28

Janet, thank you for sharing that. I note that Khalid and Ms Morgan had spoken prior to the comments in the chamber and can only hope that this means action will follow.


rogertitcombe's picture
Sun, 10/08/2014 - 08:56

This is the view of the National Secular Society posted on their website. Nor much sign of 'aggressive secularism' here.

The National Secular Society has backed Government plans to tackle religious extremism in schools by reinforcing principles of equality and fundamental values – but has argued that the proposed standards don't go far enough.

The new proposals strengthen the spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) standard to require schools to actively promote the "fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs".

Schools will also be required to encourage students to respect other people, with particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010.

However, the National Secular Society (NSS) has called on the Government to supplement the subjective terms of "respect" and "tolerance" with a specific mention of human rights to ensure students recognise that an individual's freedom of religion or belief, including non-belief, is explicitly protected by human rights and equality law. The NSS has also called for greater clarity within the revised standards over equality legislation and human rights applying to the individual rather than communities or groups as a whole.

In its submission to the Department for Education, the NSS has also argued that a new duty on schools to actively promote the values of equality should include schools leading by example, rather than them being exempt from equality legislation to enable them to discriminate against pupils on the basis of faith in their admissions.

The NSS has also called for the promotion of "partisan religious views" to be prohibited in the teaching of any subject, in the same way that existing standards prohibit schools from promoting "partisan political views". The NSS argues that schools should be required to take steps to ensure that where religious (including non-belief) issues are brought to the attention of students, they are offered a balanced presentation of opposing views.

The submission also argues that schools should be required to ensure that all aspects of its curriculum, including assemblies, are respectful and inclusive of all pupils, regardless of their religion or belief, including non-belief. Part of fulfilling this requirement would preclude a school holding acts of worship associated with a particular set of religious beliefs.

The calls were made as part of a National Secular Society submission to a Department for Education consultation on proposed new independent school standards.

New standards which are designed to raise standards in independent schools (including free schools and academies) are being introduced following cases of independent faith schools being found to be "actively promoting views that are contrary to British values, such as intolerance of other cultures and gender inequality" and exposing students to "extremist teaching and curriculum content".

The changes, such as the duty to actively promoting fundamental British values, will also be reflected in updated guidance to maintained schools, which will be issued in September 2014.

Stephen Evans, campaigns manager of the National Secular Society, said: "In recent years our education system has become a free for all where various groups have been given free rein to promote particular ideologies. Such an approach has neglected both the civic purpose of education and children's best interests.

"We all have a shared interest in the way in schools prepare children and young people for life in multicultural Britain, and it is vital that throughout all aspects of education there is an emphasis on the basic values that underpin a free, equal and progressive society. This is particularly important in free schools and academies where the national curriculum is not being followed.

"These new standards will go some to in addressing concerns about extremism in schools, but will be undermined by an education system that encourages faith based schools and allows children, at such a formative time of their lives, to be separated according to the religious beliefs of their parents.

"Ultimately, seriously questions need to be asked about the role of religion in schools and whether the religious inculcation of children should be permissible at all in publicly funded education."

Andy V's picture
Mon, 11/08/2014 - 14:13

There is a contentious issue in what has been proposed during the consultation and that centres on the requirement to "actively promoted" the core issues of the 2010 Equality Act. I use the word contentious quite deliberately because whilst no-one would argue against the aims/goals of what is being suggested there will be difficulties around interpreting/applying the requirement to actively promote LGBT issues. I can well understand the misgivings that will arise because to actively promote something is somewhat different to actively making people (in this context pupils) aware of and promoting respect for all strands of the 2010 Equality Act. When one stops to think it through a drive on actively promoting all forms of sexual orientation creates a cycle of contradiction and confusion (e.g. iIf you promote LGBT is that discrimination against non-lGBT and vice versa?). Likewise in the active promotion of disability and non-disability?

The post above refers to "The NSS has also called for the promotion of “partisan religious views” to be prohibited in the teaching of any subject", and goes on to quote from the NSS submission:

“These new standards will go some to in addressing concerns about extremism in schools, but will be undermined by an education system that encourages faith based schools and allows children, at such a formative time of their lives, to be separated according to the religious beliefs of their parents."

“Ultimately, seriously questions need to be asked about the role of religion in schools and whether the religious inculcation of children should be permissible at all in publicly funded education.”

But aren't these views also "partisan" views promoted by the NSS?

There are ways of creating an appropriate framework that is founded on balance and nurtures a broad understanding of the cultural diversity in multicultural Britain but that does not require drastic / draconian curriculum surgery in the form of banning all RE.

To follow the NSS position is to tread the path of secular/atheistic authoritarianism and polarisation in the form of 'we're right and you're wrong', which would be a regrettable mistake.

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