BIRMINGHAM city council has sacked the governors of the Muslim
voluntary aided Al-Hijrah School, Birmingham, and appointed an
interim executive board and a new acting head teacher after OFSTED
inspections over several months showed a serious decline in
standards, the council has confirmed.
The decision to disband the governing body, "which no longer has
any power or responsibility in matters relating to the school", was
taken with the backing of the Department for Education (DfE), a
council statement said. A recent monitoring visit by inspectors
found "continued failings related to the school's governance,
financial stability, and its improvement plan", it said.
The move has been strongly resisted by the staff and governors
of Al-Hijrah. Members of the new interim board who visited the
school on Thursday last week withdrew "after it became clear staff
were not going to co-operate", the statement said. They would
return next Monday, when the school reopens after half term, to
explain the situation to parents.
Press reports said that a council officer who tried to enter the
school was turned away by security guards hired by the
The heavily oversubscribed Al-Hijrah School opened in 1988 as an
independent school, but became a publicly funded voluntary aided
school in 2002. It is not one of the 21 schools inspected in
connection with the "Trojan horse" allegations (News, 16
May), but is connected to them through its governors, one of
whom was a "consultant" at one of the affected schools.
Tariq Alam, who chairs the governors at Park View Academy, at
the centre of the allegations, is reportedly secretary of the
Al-Hijrah Trust, which runs a school in Balochistan, in Pakistan.
It is also associated with the neighbouring Al-Hijrah Training
The academy's website says that its courses are designed to help
parents, teachers, governors, and educational institutions ensure
that the moral and spiritual needs of the half-million Muslim
children who attend maintained schools in Britain are met.
Birmingham clergy and diocesan officials have expressed concern
that the investigations sparked by the Trojan-horse affair are
damaging community relations. The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd
David Urquhart, is a member of a group of city leaders set up by
the council to review the allegations.
OFSTED inspectors investigating allegations of fundamentalist
Salafist teaching at the independent Olive Tree Muslim primary
school, Luton, met strong resistance from parents, The
Guardian newspaper reports.
The allegations were denied by Olive Tree school's chairman of
governors, Farasat Latif, who said that the inspectors had asked
pupils inappropriate questions about the teaching of
Reports in The Guardian say that the secretary general
of the Muslim Council of Britain, Farooq Murad, has written to
OFSTED's chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, seeking
clarification of the situation.
OFSTED did not usually inspect independent schools, but could do
so at the request of the DfE, a spokesman said this week. The
agency did not comment on inspections before reports were
published, he said.