Park View School governor accuses Michael Gove of ‘demonising communities’

Park View schoolA governor at Park View School in Birmingham has accused Michael Gove and Ofsted boss Sir Michael Wilshaw of “demonising” communities affected by allegations of a “Trojan Horse” takeover plot of schools by hardline Muslims.

David Hughes launched a stinging attack on the Education Secretary and the Ofsted chief inspector over their handling of the case and suggested that they had exploited the situation. In an open letter to Mr Gove and Sir Michael, Mr Hughes, who is also vice chair of Park View Educational Trust (PVET), warned that communities affected by the allegations feel “frightened, betrayed and let down”.

All three of PVET’s schools – Park View, Nansen Primary and Golden Hillock – were among the five schools declared inadequate and put into special measures by Ofsted following inspections at a number of Birmingham schools as part of an investigation into the alleged plot by hardline Muslims to take over schools in the city.

Mr Hughes asked why Park View School had been told it was outstanding but was then informed that it had swiftly deteriorated. He wrote: “We were told we were outstanding, not least in a personal visit from Sir Michael, and courted to set up our multi-academy trust. Now we are told we have deteriorated at an alarming rate – yet we are largely the same people, doing what we did previously.

“I find it astounding that you are now so vehement in condemning us as negligent and derelict in our duties at best, and dangerous at worst. I have to say, Mr Gove and Mr Wilshaw, I too feel exploited, intimidated, bullied and not valued.

“I doubt that you can make a better job of governing Park View than myself and my colleague governors who, like thousands of other governors across the country, make up the biggest volunteer force in the UK.

“You have some very angry communities now who feel frightened, betrayed and let down by the way you have exploited the Trojan Horse hoax and demonised them. You have my best wishes in dealing with what has been unleashed.”

Mr Hughes also said that as a reasonably new academy trust, he and his colleagues had looked to the Department for Education, Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) to guide them. “If you believe we have failed in our duties, then so have you,” he wrote.

Mr Hughes also insisted: “There is no plot to ‘Islamise’ Park View, or to promote the violation of anyone’s human rights or to promote extremism, by governors or school leadership nor did the Ofsted inspection or EFA review find any evidence of such. The only area in which we have been extreme is in our absolute insistence upon breaking the link between demographics, deprivation and underachievement.

“Furthermore to say that we do not offer a broad or balanced curriculum and for inspectors to intimate that abominable practices like female genital mutilation, and the treatment of women and girls as second class citizens are not robustly countered at Park View or our sister schools shocks and saddens us. It is simply not true.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “It is right that Ofsted and the DfE investigated the very serious concerns raised about Park View. We would be failing in our duty if we ignored the evidence arising from these investigations and did not intervene.

“That is why Lord Nash wrote to Park View setting out our intention to terminate its funding agreement. In line with normal practice, Park View has until 4 July to respond, at which point we will decide how to proceed.

“All children have a right to be kept safe in schools and receive the high quality education they deserve. Every school must offer a broad and balanced curriculum and ensure they are welcoming and inclusive to students of all faith and none.”

Birmingham Mail, 17 June 2014