Speaking to governors, teachers, pupils, parents, community representatives and council leaders in Birmingham, Dilly Hussain says that the Trojan Horse plot was nothing but unsubstantiated lies driven by an anti-Muslim political agenda.
Upon arriving at Park View Academy yesterday morning which was at the centre of the Trojan Horse scandal, the nation’s media outlets had gathered at the school entrance ready to “get their bit on record” to tailor statements and comments to meet their narrative.
Fast-forwarding to when I eventually spoke to the pupils and parents at Park View and their feelings about the Ofsted report which downgraded their school to “inadequate” (in 2012 it was “outstanding”), it seemed that the only “ideological plot” to take over was by the Department for Education (DfE).
A brief history of Park View Academy shows that it was an underachieving school in the impoverished inner-city area of Alum Rock. When it became an academy under new management, the school went from below the national average to 75% in A*- C in GCSEs, including exceptional improvement of student behaviour.
I can go on forever about the academic credentials and excellent reports that Ofsted had previously given not only to Park View, but the other 20 schools under the Trojan Horse investigation. As inspectorate testimonies have been totally disregarded, perhaps it is time to magnify the biggest root cause of this whole saga – and that is the origins of the Trojan Horse document.
The tale of the “Islamist takeover”
So what came of this whole drama about a “bloodless coup” in Birmingham schools? Absolutely nothing. Quoting the leader of Birmingham City Council (BCC), Cllr Sir Albert Bore at yesterday’s media briefing, he said: “We are reassured that Ofsted has presented no evidence of a plot or conspiracy but there have been unacceptable actions by a few people in a few schools.”
When Cllr Bore said “a few people in a few schools” he and Ofsted were referring to some governors, namely the Chair of Governors at Park View, Tahir Alam, the face of the whole Trojan Horse plot.
Ofsted made it clear that in the absence of an organised plot or conspiracy of any kind, the following issues/concerns were apparent:
– A culture of fear and intimidation has developed in some of the schools since their previous inspection.
– Some head teachers reported that there has been an organised campaign to target certain schools in Birmingham in order to alter their character and ethos.
– The evidence shows that governors have recently exerted inappropriate influence on policy and the day to day running of several schools.
– Birmingham City Council has failed to support a number of schools in their efforts to keep pupils safe from radicalisation and extremism.
– Children are being badly prepared for life in modern Britain.
Whilst many will be celebrating these findings as a “positive” outcome, one only has to scratch beneath the surface to notice an underlying ideological tone of Ofsted’s report without the mentioning of buzz words like “extremist” and “Islamist”. What is this “organised campaign to alter the character and ethos of certain schools” if they’re not suggesting an ideological one? What is it that Ofsted deems to be the “lack of preparation of children for life in modern Britain” if it isn’t an indirect reference to the Islamic ethos in some of these schools?
Even though Ofsted failed to present any evidence of a Muslim plot to “Islamise” these schools, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove is still adamant that further PREVENT training should be taken by teachers and governing bodies, and this will most likely come in the form of new “link officers” provided by the LEA to all schools (starting in Birmingham from this September) – academies, faith and community schools alike. Although this link was not overtly made by Cllr Bore or the DfE, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the obvious connection between PREVENT and new reinvented “initiatives”.
Furthermore, the CEO of BCC, Mark Rogers stated yesterday that during his conversation with Gove, a new framework of child “safeguarding” were applied in the recent Ofsted report. The DfE/Ofsted usually measures “pupil safety” from the perspective of physical harm, abuse, health and safety. The new “safeguarding” framework specifically deals with the “vulnerability and exposure of pupils to radical extremism“.
As former University of Birmingham lecturer and government advisor, Jahan Mahmood said to me during our interview: “Michael Gove wanted to tackle radicalisation but has caused further radicalisation. He wanted to tackle the problem of ideology by pushing his own ideology. This is the problem of politicising the education system by using PREVENT which is counter-productive and not inclusive for 10-year-olds.
“Introducing primary and secondary school children to PREVENT will only backfire because it ignores the very root cause of this government’s double standards and hypocrisy in foreign policy, Syria being the most recent example.”
Michael Gove and the origins of the Trojan Horse letter
The general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Christine Bower issued a statement on Ofsted’s reports into Birmingham schools.
“From an unsigned and undated letter has grown this so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ affair.
The highly inflammatory deployment of an anti-terrorism chief to head up the inquiry, the unprecedented and clearly political inspection of 21 schools by Ofsted, and the public squabble between Theresa May and Michael Gove has not been positive for Birmingham schools and the children they educate.
There seems to be a redefinition of ‘extremism’ from the Secretary of State for Education, and as yet lots of speculation and not a little hyperbole.
What all this does show is that if schools sever their connection with a local authority, the levers to monitor or effect change available at local level are lost.
What is clearly needed is local authorities with powers to monitor and support schools, clear national agreement on the importance of Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) and the need to promote community cohesion and the aim to create schools in which individuals feel at ease with themselves and are respectful of difference. Knee jerk reactions from government on the basis of personal predilections are not what is required.”
Michael Gove told the House of Commons that “schools will be told to actively promote British values“. Whilst I try working out what those “values” are exactly, I’m assuming it’s everything that this government (like many Western governments) claim to exercise but very rarely do like freedom, tolerance, due process, transparency, justice, mutual respect and so forth – all the aforementioned totally absent in the handling of the Trojan Horse scandal, amongst endless examples of Muslim grievances domestically and abroad.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gove used the Trojan Horse episode to further his own political agenda, a neo-conservative Islamophobic agenda with aspirations to take the Tory leadership via a plot of his own. A proud Zionist who dedicated a chapter entitled “Trojan Horse” in his 2006 book “Celsius 7/7″ discussing the rise of Islamism in the UK, the man who specifically requested 15 of the 21 Birmingham schools to be investigated, the opportunist who made the biggest racket over this lie can be the only individual who may know the origins of the Trojan Horse.
If Muslims fail to protest over the origins of the Trojan Horse letter by allowing it to be brushed under the carpet (the way Cllr Bore did when he was confronted by former Birmingham councillor, Salma Yaqoob), we will be giving a green light for unsourced and unsubstantiated lies to be used to criminalise us in the future.