The Ofsted reports into the 21 schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse allegations were a gift for all involved.

They seemed to confirm everything at the same time as confirming nothing about the substantive Trojan Horse allegations.

Those who are adamant there is a plot could point to enough examples of mismanagement, coercion, intimidation, maladministration, cronyism and undermining of staff and plenty of attempts to push a strict Islamic ethos into the classroom.

Those who believed it was all a giant hoax whipped up in a frenzy of Islamophobia could point to the fact there was no evidence of an over-arching conspiracy infiltrating dozens of schools in multiple cities.

At the same time, Ofsted could point a finger at Birmingham City Council for failing to guarantee the safety of the city’s children.

The council could then say that the Department for Education, in granting these schools academy status, was ultimately responsible for governance.

While others bemoaned the fact that Ofsted, once it had awarded some schools ‘outstanding’ status, had taken a light touch approach to follow up inspections – checking a few exam grades and not much else.

Everyone’s a winner – you can believe Trojan Horse is a witch hunt lead by a zealot of an education secretary, or that schools in inner city Birmingham are a breeding ground for future terrorists. Ofsted has an answer for everyone.

What is clear is that, at a few schools, there has been spectacular mismanagement, some of it with a very nasty edge, and the pushing of an overtly religious agenda. The result is that children are not being given a well-rounded education.

What has also become apparent is that there are no clear lines of authority – particularly with academies and free schools.

Most instinctively look to the Local Education Authority for oversight or control, but successive governments have seen them as a hindrance, staffed by ideological zealots who hold schools back and therefore allowed academies to break free.

Thus City Council leader Sir Albert Bore can justifiably claim that they had lost the lines of communication with schools like Park View Academy.

The Department for Education must therefore be in charge – although critics also say that they are staffed by ideological zealots who have accelerated the academy and free school program and allowed the current situation to get out of control.

The DfE takes its advice from Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency which inspect schools first hand and report back.

But Ofsted has only inspected what it is told to inspect and the emphasis on extremism has clearly shifted in the light of this issue.

And we then had the unedifying sight of a turf war between Michael Gove and Theresa May at the Home Office with leaks throughout.

And if anyone thinks this will now die down they are sorely mistaken. We have two further reports from the City Council’s advisor Ian Kershaw and Michael Gove’s counter-terrorism expert Peter Clarke to come in the next few weeks – both to be accompanied by even more reaction, claim and counter claim. Then Park View Acadamy has launched legal action against Ofsted. We also have the very colourful debate about what the Education Secretary means when he talks of teaching children British values in class.

The focus on this disaster has been on religion and extremism, but it has done more to expose the mess of our education system.


As Michael Gove and Theresa May sat on the Government front bench to present a united front on Monday, they were separated in what was quickly dubbed a ‘Pickle sandwich’.

The Education Secretary, who seems to excel at upsetting most people working in education and the Home Secretary, have hardly covered themselves in glory during the whole Trojan Horse episode.

The extensive leaks and widespread briefings have shown them to be deeply concerned about future leadership credentials, while they should perhaps be totally focused on the schools, parents and children involved in Trojan Horse.

And seeing Eric Pickles (pictured) sitting between them, it occurred that he was probably the best man to oversee the Government’s Trojan Horse inquiries.

He has previously run a city and local education authority – Bradford. And in common with Birmingham, the Yorkshire city has a significant Muslim population and similar levels of deprivation. So he is well aware of the turf.

He also has no illusions of future Tory Party leadership to cloud his judgement.


An almost prophetic opinion piece by Edgbaston councillor James Hutchings in The Times in February 1993 has surfaced in which he warns of allowing state-funded Muslim schools.

Writing more than two decades ago as the freedom to set up Muslim faith schools was established, he warned that such schools inhibit integration, could be ethnically divisive and discriminate against girls.

And while, strictly speaking, the Trojan Horse schools are not Muslim, many of the issues which have been raised this week are covered by Coun Hutchings.

“There too is the danger that while Muslim schools would be subject to the national curriculum, some might gradually give preference to the teaching of Islam.”

He adds: “If we lack the courage to prohibit this unnecessary proposal, we will reap the whirlwind in future.”

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