Trojan Horse: 25 schools probed over alleged takeover plot
An investigation into an alleged hard-line Islamist takeover plot of Birmingham schools has widened, with 25 schools now under the spotlight.
Birmingham City Council said it had received more than 200 reports in relation to its inquiry. It has appointed former head teacher Ian Kershaw as its chief advisor.
Anonymous claims hard-line Muslims were trying to take over the running of some city schools were made in a letter sent to local authorities last year.
The 25 schools now being looked at include primaries, secondaries and academies. The 200-plus reports to the council include emails and calls from staff, parents and governors.
The leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore, said he did not know the full range of issues raised and said it would be wrong to comment on the specifics of the allegations.
“It is about the general specifics, the behaviour of the schools, what happens within the schools, the school day, the assembly,” he said.
Mr Kershaw, who is managing director of Northern Education, will conduct a study and report to a newlyformed review group made up of MPs, police, councillors and faith groups.
His report is due to be published alongside a parallel investigation by the Department for Education (DfE) in May.
It will feed into a follow-up document containing recommendations on how schools are run, both locally and nationally, to be released in July, the council said.
Concerns were raised last year when an undated and anonymous letter outlining the alleged plot, dubbed “Operation Trojan Horse”, which it claimed had already ousted four head teachers and brought about an adherence to more hard-line Islamic principles.
The letter was apparently penned by someone in Pro-Russian activists have attacked another official building in east Ukraine, ignoring a deadline to leave or face eviction by Ukrainian forces.
A crowd stormed a police station in the town of Horlivka, near Donetsk, taking control of the building. Ukraine’s interim president hit out at “aggression” from Russia, but signalled support for a national referendum.
Olexander Turchynov said Kiev was “not against” a vote on the future of the country, a key demand from protesters.
Mr Turchynov also said Ukraine was preparing an “anti-terrorist operation” against gunmen occupying government buildings in Sloviansk and a number of other towns and cities.
His office said that he had suggested the UN could assist in any such operation. This would be highly unlikely as Russia has a veto on the Security Council, which would have to authorise any such action. Correspondents Birmingham to a contact in Bradford.
Sir Albert said the city council had spoken to local authorities in both Manchester and Bradford.
“There are certainly issues in Bradford which have similarities with the issues being spoken about in Birmingham,” he said.
He added he was frustrated with the two-tier schools system in which academies operate outside the local authority’s control and report directly to the DfE.
“We do not have the relationship with academies as we do with the community schools,” he said. Brigid Jones, the council’s cabinet member for children and family services, said children should be able to work “without fear of intimidation”.
She denied claims from some Muslim parents that a freeze on the recruitment of school governors, while it investigates the claims, was effectively a message that Muslim governors were not welcome. BBC says people in eastern Ukraine are anxiously waiting to see if Mr Turchynov carries through on his threat to use the army against the proRussian groups.
In a televised address to parliament, interim President Turchynov suggested Kiev would be open to moving from a republic into a federation and giving broader rights to Ukraine’s Russian speakers.
The pro-Russian groups who have seized government buildings in eastern regions are demanding local referendums on either increased local rights or an option to join the Russian Federation.
But Mr Turchynov stopped well short of giving in to these demands by showing support for a national referendum, of which the outcome is uncertain because most people in Kiev and the Ukrainian-speaking west reject the idea of federalisation. BBC