The evidence is thin. Ofsted visited 21 mainstream Birmingham schools: 15 of these were monitoring inspections, 6 were full. And although Ofsted found worrying levels of interference in five of the schools which had full inspections, they found no evidence of a co-ordinated plot. Rather it was the influence of a group of zealous governors overstepping their responsibilities in an unacceptable way.
That said, Ofsted’s findings from five fully-inspected schools: three academies run by Park View Education Trust (PVET), Oldknow Academy and Saltley School and Specialist Science College, and the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) reports into PVET
and Oldknow Academy
, are damning. Investigators found*:
1Inappropriate interference by governors
some of whom were promoting “a narrow faith-based ideology” (Oldknow) or “taking the Islamic focus too far” (Park View);
2Academies in breach of the Academies Financial Handbook
4Staff being afraid
to speak out or having no confidence in leaders or governing bodies;
5In the one non-academy, Saltley, the interim executive headteacher only visited one day a week, governors undermined senior leaders
and spent the budget “unwisely”. This dodgy expenditure
included hiring private eyes to snoop on senior staff’s emails (illegal, surely?).
The sixth school subjected to a full inspection, St Clement’s CofE Academy, was judged Good. Inspectors wrote: “All cultures mix happily together in a lively and colourful environment.”
But what of the 15 schools which received monitoring visits? 9 were given positive comments about community cohesion such as “Respect is at the heart of the school’s ethos” (Small Heath School).
Inspectors noted pupils of different cultures and faiths played together in two of the remaining schools but police were investigating serious allegations by former staff members at one (Adderley Primary) and the other (Regents Park Community Primary School) had its Key Stage 2 Sats annulled following concerns about the validity of results. Inspectors didn’t have much to say about inclusion at Montgomery Primary Academy – they noted leaders hadn’t told staff about government guidelines on the prevention of extremism.
Inspectors were critical of the remaining three. Governors at Highfield Junior and Infant Schools didn’t fully support the school’s values despite the head’s determination to provide an education which prepares pupils for life in contemporary Britain. The governors didn’t act pro-actively when parents (yes, parents) “sought to undermine the headteacher’s resolve to promote the school’s values.” A “sizeable group of staff” at Ladypool Primary School were concerned some traditions and beliefs (unspecified) were being promoted more than others. There was “mistrust and lack of unity” among staff at Heathfield Primary School where an emphasis on basic skills had narrowed the curriculum.
This, then, is the publicised evidence so far. It’s not uncontested – Park View, which was judged Inadequate overall but with Good achievement and teaching, will be challenging the reports
for PVET academies.
Chief HMI, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has written to Education Secretary, Michael Gove, summarising the findings
but he has an irritating habit of writing “some” and “several” where it’s possible to give exact numbers instead of using vague phraseology which can be misinterpreted. Nevertheless, Sir Michael has listed nine recommendations.
12 June 2014: I included St Clement's CoE Academy in the list of 21 schools. Although the Ofsted report for St Clement's was published on 9 June it was not one of the 21 included in the so-called Trojan Plot. I omitted Gracelands Nursery School monitoring report. Of the 21 schools inspected as part of the Trojan Horse inquiry, 5 received full inspections. All five were judged Inadequate: 4 academies and one LA maintained school. The remaining 16 schools received monitoring reports. The full list of 21 schools with links to the reports is here
NOTES Ofsted reports released on 9 June 2014 for Birmingham schools can be downloaded here
*I have combined Ofsted and EFA reports
ADDENDUM The thread has been amended to remove the last sentence which said I would discuss Sir Michael's recommendations in a later thread. I shall only be mentioning them in passing in future threads where relevant and won't devote a whole thread to them. Sir Michael's recommendations can be read by downloading his letter to Michael Gove here