Authorities have launched an investigation into an alleged plot to take over schools in Birmingham by an extremist Islamic group.
Ofsted, Britain’s education regulator, began the inquiry after Birmingham City Council received an anonymous letter – titled ‘Trojan Horse’ – detailing plans to oust the head teachers of four schools in the city and make the schools adhere to stricter Islamic principles.
The investigation has now been expanded to more than 20 schools including primary and secondary schools as well as higher education academies.
The council last week announced a freeze on the recruitment of school governors across Birmingham stating that the system was “not fit for purpose”.
Anonymous whistle-blowers, including former teachers, have also come forward since the Trojan Horse claims hit the media, making accusations about the segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, a ban on sex education, and bullying of non-Muslim staff.
One former staff member at an Academy alleged a colleague had in an assembly praised the firebrand al Qaida-linked Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
However, the school trustees have firmly denied all the claims, branding the allegations “a witch-hunt”.
The school’s governors have also pointed to the turnaround in pupils’ GCSE results in recent years, with three quarters of students completing their studies having gained at least five grade A* to C qualifications, including maths and English in 2013.
Separately, West Midlands Police said at the beginning of March – after scrutinising the Trojan Horse letter – it was reopening a fraud inquiry into allegations first made by staff members at another school in the city in January 2013, but ruled out any wider anti-extremist or counter-terror investigation into the claims made in the document.