Ofsted chief Wilshaw takes charge of Trojan Horse

Sir Michael Wilshaw Sir Michael Wilshaw is taking charge of Ofsted's Birmingham investigation

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Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw is to take personal charge of the watchdog's investigation into claims that a number of schools in Birmingham have been taken over by Muslim hardliners.

Ofsted has carried out inspections in 18 schools in the city.

Sir Michael is expected to go to Birmingham this week to finalise the reports from these inspections.

Ofsted and the Department for Education are expected to publish their findings in early May.

The Department for Education has ordered its own review of the evidence in the so-called Trojan Horse conspiracy.

There have been claims that a hardline Muslim faction had sought to gain influence over schools and remove staff who were not sympathetic to their religious agenda.

Ofsted has not commented on claims that leaked inspection reports show serious problems in some schools.

Segregation

There have been reports of gender segregation in schools, the undermining of staff and the unfair treatment of non-Muslim pupils.

Birmingham City Council has launched its own investigation into 25 schools.

Park View School Park View Educational Trust warns against "irresponsible" speculation

But the chair of governors of one of the Birmingham schools caught up in the claims has denied that his school has faced an Ofsted inspection.

Roger King, chair of governors at Springfield primary school and a delegate at the National Union of Teachers conference in Brighton, said that Ofsted last visited the school "maybe two years ago".

Mr King, a local NUT representative in Birmingham, said he had not come across extremism or segregation in the city's schools.

"I can say I've never had a concern raised from members who have said 'In our school they are segregating the girls from the boys'.

"We've never received an email about anything of that sort of thing, or that there have been inflammatory Islamic assemblies.

"I would have thought that if those things were going on they would have been brought to us."

Mr King said there were questions about whether Ofsted was inspecting schools in an even-handed way.

"The Ofsted team were going to the staff of the school and saying 'we're going to fail you' and some of the staff were saying 'why are you failing us' and they were saying 'well, you're not teaching anti-terrorism and therefore there's a safeguarding issue in the school'."

He said that staff were "really upset" about being asked whether they were homophobic. And girls sitting with other girls were asked whether they had been made to sit there.

In response, an Ofsted spokesman said: "Inspectors are required to uphold the highest professional standards in their work and to ensure that everyone they encounter during inspections is treated fairly and with respect. These standards are assured through a code of conduct."

Park View Educational Trust, which runs schools linked to the allegations, also warned that it was "highly irresponsible" for anyone to suggest that schools will face interventions when neither the Department for Education or Ofsted had completed their reports - and when pupils at the secondary schools were about to take GCSEs.

Park View school served a disadvantaged area and had gone from special measures to outstanding and had a waiting list of children wanting places, said a statement.

'Demonise'

Douglas Morgan, a teacher from Birmingham, warned the NUT conference that the inquiries could "demonise the Muslim population of this country".

During a debate on racism and immigration Mr Morgan called for the teachers' union conference "to send a message that we are against Islamophobia".

The NUT is to consider an emergency debate on the Trojan Horse claims on Monday.

Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed former counter-terror chief Peter Clarke to examine whether there was any substance to the allegations.

"No pupils should be exposed to extremist views or radicalisation while at school," said Mr Gove.

On Saturday, Labour's shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt warned against religious extremism in schools.

"We cannot have head teachers forced out, teachers undermined, curricula re-written and cultural or gender-based segregation," he told the NASUWT teachers' conference in Birmingham.

The inquiry has become known as Trojan Horse because this was the name of a plan for an organised take over of schools in an anonymous letter.

It has not been established whether the letter is authentic or a hoax.

The Department for Education, in a statement this weekend, said investigations into the "very serious" allegations must be "carried out impartially, without pre-judgement" and as such it would be "inappropriate to comment further".

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