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Head teachers back probe into Birmingham schools

09 May 2014


Under investigation: Park View academy, Birmingham

Under investigation: Park View academy, Birmingham

INVESTIGATIONS into allegations of interference by Muslim hardliners in some Birmingham schools (News, 25 April) were backed last weekend by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), which is holding its annual conference in the city. The statement followed a pre-conference meeting on the allegations, attended by 100 heads and school leaders.

Although the NAHT regarded the "Trojan horse" letters as fakes, its officials had investigated concerns raised by heads in about 12 schools, the statement said. In six of these, they had found evidence of "concerted efforts" to alter the character of the school in line with the Islamic faith, the statement said. The actions involved might have broken the principles of good governance and good employment practices, and put at risk children's entitlement to a rounded education.

There was a case to answer, and investigations by the Department for Education, OFSTED, and Birmingham City Council were justified, the NAHT statement concluded.

A spokeswoman said that the organisation had found evidence of governors' "pushing the boundaries" on appointments in a few schools, but did not believe that the problem was widespread.

Later, the NAHT general secretary, Russell Hobby, called for "a greater sense of perspective" in discussing and reporting the issues. In his keynote speech to the conference, Mr Hobby said that schools were not the place for political or religious indoctrination.

In a BBC interview on Monday, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he believed that there was little danger of Church of England schools' being targeted by hardliners. Many C of E schools served communities in the poorest parts of the country, where they attracted large numbers of pupils. None of the 26 C of E schools in inner-city Birmingham have been involved in the current investigations.

The findings of OFSTED inspections of up to 20 Birmingham schools, which had been expected this month, will be published June.

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