DEVELOPMENTS in the current investigation into "Trojan Horse"
attempted takeovers of some Birmingham schools by Muslim
conservatives this week sparked open disagreement between the
Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, and the Home
Secretary, Theresa May.
The dispute was sparked by the revelation by a Birmingham head
teacher that he had warned the city council in 2008 of attempts by
some conservative Islamist governors to exercise undue influence in
city schools with large numbers of Muslim pupils. Because no action
was taken, the head took his concerns to the Department for
Education (DfE) in 2010, he said.
In a leaked letter to Mr Gove, the Home Secretary asked: "Is it
true that Birmingham city council was warned about these
allegations in 2008? Is it true that the DfE was warned in 2010? If
so, why did nobody act?
"We will need to take clear action to improve the quality of
staffing and governance if we are to prevent extremism in
The letter is reportedly a continuation of a long standing
disagreement between Mr Gove and Mrs May over approaches to
extremism. Both are members of the Cabinet's Extremist Task Force,
where, reportedly, Mrs May advocates a softer approach while Mr
Gove takes a stronger line.
He reportedly wanted a code of practice, which is being drawn up
for religious supplementary schools, such as madrassas, to be made
mandatory, against Mrs May's wishes.
A government statement said on Wednesday that Mr Gove and Mrs
May were working together on the issues.
The departmental dispute comes days before OSTED is due to
publish the findings of its inspections of 21 of the city's schools
in connection with the allegations. It coincided with a letter
strongly critical of OFSTED's approach in Birmingham by SirTim
Brighouse, a widely respected educationist and former chief
education officer for the city.
The letter, also signed by Tim Wylie, former head of the
Runnymede Trust, and Salma Yaqoob, a former Birmingham councillor
and prominent member of the Respect party, accuses OFSTED of being
guided by a new ideology "at odds with traditional British values
of fairness, justice, and respect for others".
On Thursday, the Prime Minister vowed to resolve the dispute
between the two minister.
"I will get to the bottom of who has said what and what
has happened and I will sort it all out, once I have finished these
important meetings I am having here," he told reporters at the G7
meeting in Brussells.
He said: "I think it's very important that you recognise that we
have got to deal not only with violent extremism but also the sink
of extremism, of tolerating extremist views from which violence can
Mr Cameron has appointed the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy
Heywood, to investigate the causes of the row within the
Governing the governors:
Are the Birmingham schools being unfairly targeted? Vote