“Overall, Ofsted inspected 21 schools. Three were good or outstanding; 12 were found to require improvement. The remaining six are inadequate…”
Education Secretary, Michael Gove, 9 June 2014
Gove’s statement implied that 21 schools had full inspections and that Ofsted made new judgements. But that implication is false.
Only five had full inspections. They were judged Inadequate overall but not necessarily on all counts. Achievement and Teaching at Oldknow Academy, for example, was still rated Outstanding.
The remaining 16 had monitoring inspections so their previous Ofsted judgements still stand: ten were Good or Outstanding, four Require Improvement or were judged Satisfactory and two were Inadequate.
Although Gove gave the impression he was quoting full Ofsted judgements, he was not doing so. He was referring to one thing only: leadership and management. He should, of course, have made this clear. It was misleading not to do so.
The Ofsted investigation was supposed to find signs of an organised, city-wide plot. The evidence of a co-ordinated takeover of Birmingham schools is weak
. But Gove seems to imply that if any targeted schools had weaknesses in leadership and management, then they’re involved in the so-called Trojan Horse conspiracy.
Ofsted made positive comments about community cohesion at nine of the sixteen schools which were monitored. Yet it judged leadership and management at twelve schools to require improvement. But inspectors only expressed concerns about overbearing governors or mistrust in three of them
. The others seemed to have had their leadership damned for reasons other than possible infiltration: mostly it referred to non-engagement with Prevent. Even the nursery school was censured for not using Prevent strategies with its three- and four-year-olds.
Oddly, there is no reference to Prevent in Ofsted reports for other Birmingham Schools published between 6 and 10 June. Inspectors made no comments about engagement with Prevent at St Clement’s CofE Academy, St Clare’s Catholic Primary, Greenholm Primary or Glenmead Primary. Given that Prevent is supposed to tackle other forms of extremism such as far-right activism, then it's illogical for inspectors not to consider engagement with Prevent in all schools (if it's really desirable, of course. There's been no debate, there's disagreement
about how best to implement the policy and it's been criticised. It might be more productive to concentrate on community cohesion).
Further questions remain and Gove mentioned one of them: who knew what and when? He said he’d asked Birmingham LA and Ofsted to start inquiries to find out when the alleged plot first came to light. He’s also asked the Department for Education (DfE). He could start with Lord Hill. He was schools minister at the time and was present at the 2010 meeting when head teacher, Tim Boyes, presented evidence about plans to takeover certain Birmingham schools. It is rather stretching belief
to think Lord Hill didn’t inform his chief. A cynic might say any scandal about a plot to takeover schools involving a faith group might have hampered the free school programme.
A final question surrounds Gove’s handling of the affair. He gave the appearance of assuming guilt before it was proven. It was right to order an investigation but he should have stood back until inquiries were complete. Instead, he sent in a former counter-terrorist chief and undermined the Home Secretary with remarks about draining swamps. And now he misrepresents Ofsted reports to make the situation in the 21 schools appear worse than it is.
Let’s be clear: Ofsted has not changed the judgements on sixteen of the 21 schools – there should be no reason why those which were not previously judged Inadequate should be handed to the academy sponsors Gove has waiting in the wings.
Ofsted judgements for the 15 schools which had monitoring inspections:
Adderley Primary School: Good 2012
Aston Primary School: Inadequate May 2013
Chilwell Croft Academy (Predecessor school): Satisfactory 2011
Gracelands Nursery: Good May 2012
Heathfield Primary School: Requires improvement Nov 2013
Highfield Junior and Infant School: Requires Improvement June 2013
Ladypool Primary School: Requires Improvement January 2014
Marlborough Junior School: Good June 2013
Montgomery Primary Academy (Predecessor school): Inadequate March 2012
Ninestiles School, an Academy: Outstanding October 2013
Regents Park Community Primary School: Outstanding 2011
Shaw Hill Primary School: Good June 2013
Small Heath School: Outstanding May 2013
Washwood Heath Academy: Good January 2012
Waverley School: Outstanding December 2012
Welford Primary School: Good 2013
A list of the 21 schools with links to Ofsted reports is here