Education bosses have played down claims that Bradford schools are to be the focus of new targeted inspections in the wake of the Trojan Horse row.
There are reports that Whitehall officials are planning to carry out snap inspections at the city amid concerns that the problems found in Birmingham schools could be repeated elsewhere in the country. Claims that Muslim governors were attempting to take over state schools in Birmingham has led to a series of inspections by the Government, the local council and Ofsted.
Ofsted placed five schools in Birmingham in special measures and said a “culture of fear and intimidation has taken grip” in some schools. A separate report by former counter terrorism chief Peter Clarke said there was evidence of an “aggressive Islamist agenda” being pursued by some schools in the city
Now a national newspaper has said that Bradford is to be the focus of new inspections by both Ofsted and officials from the Department for Education (DfE). However Ofsted said it was not aware of any plans to carry out snap inspections in Bradford and Bradford Council’s executive member for schools Coun Ralph Berry said the DfE had not raised any specific concerns about the city.
Ofsted has already visited several schools in Muslim areas of Bradford following on from the Trojan Horse row in Birmingham. It has carried out inspections at Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, where Bradford Council had removed the governing body over concerns about its ability to support the school, Carlton Bolling College where it has been claimed that a former head teacher had been forced out over religious tensions with governors and Feversham College, a Muslim girls school.
The national newspaper that made these claims is the Sunday Times, and the report was written by Richard Kerbaj and Sian Griffiths. They are the journalists who were responsible for unleashing the Islamophobic hysteria in Birmingham with a shock-horror report (“Islamist plot to take over schools”) that presented the transparently forged “Trojan Horse” letter as genuine – a claim thoroughly debunked in The Times shortly afterwards by journalists with a greater respect for honesty and accuracy.
Now Bradford schools face claim of Muslim takeover
By Richard Kerbaj and Sian Griffiths
OFSTED inspectors are set to be sent into schools in Bradford to investigate claims of an attempted takeover by Muslim extremists.
The Sunday Times understands that officials from the schools watchdog and teams from the Education Funding Agency (EFA) are likely to begin snap inspections when schools reopen in September after the summer break. Three schools in the Yorkshire city have already been inspected by Ofsted as part of the so-called Trojan Horse plot to take over state schools.
Whitehall sources said Nicky Morgan, the new education secretary, had been spurred on by last week’s report by Peter Clarke, a former anti-terror chief at Scotland Yard who discovered a “determined effort” by Muslim extremists to gain control of some Birmingham schools. Clarke urged the Department for Education (DfE) to “consider whether other areas of the country may be vulnerable and respond promptly and effectively”.
A Whitehall official said new inspections would include looking for any links between Bradford schools and Tahir Alam, the former chairman of the Park View Educational Trust, which was embroiled in the Trojan Horse controversy. Any connection between Bradford schools and Monzoor Hussain, head of Park View School, and Razwan Faraz, deputy head of Nansen Primary, in Birmingham would also be examined.
“Bradford is the next logical place for the DfE to investigate,” the official said. “The DfE will send in Ofsted to do snap inspections and then dispatch EFA officials to examine school finances. “The investigation model will be pretty much how the DfE went about investigating the Birmingham schools. Nicky Morgan is keen to make a mark and not be taken as a soft touch following Michael Gove’s [the former education secretary] departure.”
Inspections by Ofsted into three Bradford schools in recent weeks have raised concern about the influence of people seeking to impose Islamic practices. Inspectors found “deep-rooted disagreement and distrust between governors” and efforts to drop Christian assemblies at Carlton Bolling College as well as a refusal to allow men inside Feversham College, a state-funded Muslim girls school. At Laisterdyke College,there have been reports of clashes between the head teacher and governors who have since left.
David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East and a former chairman of governors at Carlton Bolling, accepted that some people had been pushing for more Islamic practices in some city schools but said the council had dealt with the problem. Ward argued that, were it not for the type of education on offer at Feversham, many girls would be sent to Kashmir by their parents. “They would rather their daughters went back to Kashmir for their education than go to a mixed school and be taught alongside boys in this country,” he said.