‘Trojan Horse’: Ofsted warns it will inspect beyond Birmingham

INSPECTORS are poised to visit any school where concerns are raised about an “unbalanced curriculum” or governors abusing their position in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” allegations, Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned.

Education Secretary Michael Gove

The Ofsted chief inspector also confirmed that the watchdog has conducted inspections in a number of other areas outside Birmingham - where there have been claims of plots by Muslim governors to take over schools - to investigate similar issues.

However, Ofsted did not confirm whether this included Bradford where the latest allegations have emerged.

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Sir Michael said he has ordered his team to respond swiftly to any concerns brought to their attention and to carry out no-notice inspections if necessary.

Nansen Primary School in Birmingham was one of three schools inspected as part of the "Trojan Horse" investigations and placed in special measures

“What inspectors found in a number of schools in Birmingham is deeply disturbing,” he said. “We should all be concerned if a school - of any kind - is failing to encourage children to develop tolerant attitudes towards other faiths and cultures or allowing governors to exert inappropriate influence on the curriculum or other aspects of school life.

“It’s vitally important that we remain vigilant for such problems developing in any part of the country. Under Ofsted’s regional structure, our inspectors are now closer to the ground and to those we inspect than ever before. I have asked them to make sure they are using their local knowledge and contacts to identify where these type of problems may be taking hold.

Earlier this week, Ofsted published a damning verdict on the running of a number of schools in Birmingham.

Five schools in the city were placed into special measures after a series of inspections in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” allegations.

The inspections found that a “culture of fear and intimidation” had developed in some schools and, in several, governors exerted “inappropriate influence” over how they were being run.

However the “Trojan Horse” plot letter which led to these investigation is widely believed to have been a hoax.

The new claims in Bradford come from a BBC report and in comments made by Nick Weller, the head of an organisation representing head teachers across the city, the Bradford Partnership.He said there had been co-ordinated attempt by a small group of unrepresentative Muslim governors to gain greater control of governing bodies.

However Coun Faisal Khan, chairman of governors at Carlton Bolling College denied the claims which he said felt like a witch hunt.

Michael Jameson, strategic director of children’s services at Bradford Council, said; “We are aware of issues of religious conservatism and the behaviour of a small number of governors at Carlton Bolling College. If the council has any concerns about the effectiveness of a governing body, or the relationship between a governing body and a head teacher, we act quickly so that the school can make rapid progress.”

He highlighted Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, another secondary school in the city, where the council applied to remove the governning body because it had concerns that it was impeding progress at the school.

An Ofsted report into Laisterdyke criticised governance at the school but made no mention of any of the kind of issues at the centre of the Birmingham controversy. This followed national newspaper claims that there had been disagreements between the school leadership and some Muslim governors.

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