The chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, is to censure half a dozen schools in Birmingham for failing to prepare pupils “for life in modern Britain”, when Ofsted publishes the results of its investigations into the Trojan Horse affair, in which it was alleged there was an Islamist plot to subvert schools in the city.
The tranche of reports on 21 state schools, which could be published as early as this week, say there was scant evidence of religious extremism on a daily basis in classrooms, with most criticism reserved for school management and cases of overbearing behaviour by school governors.
Ofsted’s inspectors appear to have been unable to find much evidence of claims of homophobia or gender discrimination, which have been alleged by anonymous former teachers at some of the schools.
Six schools, including three operated by the Park View Academy Trust – Park View academy, Golden Hillock secondary and Nansen primary schools – are expected to be rated as “inadequate” and placed in special measures, allowing the Department for Education to remove the trust from the running of schools and replace their governors.
In the case of Park View, the inadequate grade would come a little more than two years after Ofsted inspectors rated the school as outstanding in all areas and praised it for its excellent academic results and inclusivity. In the two subsequent years its exam results have improved, but the latest Ofsted evaluation downgrades teaching and achievement.
The Sunday Times reported that one of the schools, Ninestiles Academy, had been given an outstanding rating and praised for its work with the police to combat extremism. Another school, Washwood Heath Academy, had been told it needed further work “preparing students to live in multicultural Britain”.
Ofsted staff visiting the school asked whether pupils were being taught about grooming and sexual exploitation, as well as forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Ofsted’s investigation – ordered by the Department for Education – is one of four launched since the existence of a letter detailing the alleged Trojan Horse plot came to light. Although several of the claims have been disproved or remain unsubstantiated, they have provoked soul-searching in Birmingham.
The city council is running its own investigation and is braced for a radical overhaul, either at its own hands or through the DfE, which is mulling plans to break up the council’s education functions.
The Sunday Times also claimed that Tahir Alam, chair of governors at Park View for 17 years and named as a plot ringleader in the Trojan Horse letter, was previously the “leader of a fundamentalist group which had aspired to turn Britain into an Islamic state”.
Alam has denied wrongdoing and said the allegations were entirely unfounded. He said the organisation referred to was a religious study group, and that his role involved volunteering as a tutor to a group of teenagers in Birmingham more than 20 years ago.
“I have no idea what this is about. This type of character assassination is very upsetting, and hard to respond to because it comes from anonymous sources,” Alam said. “I’ve been involved in education for 17 years. I’m not some sort of hidden character, I have a long track record of working in inner city schools, in disadvantaged areas, to raise standards.” He pointed out that he had previously been appointed as a national leader of governance by the DfE.