UK

Hunt presses Gove for Birmingham Trojan Horse answers

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Media captionTim Boyes, head of Queensbridge School, said he had warned ministers

The shadow education secretary has written to Michael Gove after reports the government was warned in 2010 that Muslim hardliners were trying to take control of Birmingham schools.

In the letter, Tristram Hunt said the education secretary's response had left "too many unanswered questions".

Yesterday a head teacher said he warned ministers three years before a letter alleging a "Trojan Horse plot" emerged.

The Trojan Horse claims have prompted a series of investigations.

There have been doubts about the authenticity of the letter, which described plans to install governors and staff who were more sympathetic to a hardline Muslim agenda.

Tim Boyes, head of Queensbridge School, described a "bloodless coup" at one school and "an alliance to destabilise the head" at another.

The Department for Education said the meeting with Mr Boyes was a "general policy discussion".

The anonymous and unverified letter claimed that there was a Trojan Horse conspiracy by a group wanting to impose a more hardline Muslim agenda on schools in the city.

Governance worries

In his letter to Mr Gove, Mr Hunt asserts that "as a result of the failure to act, we have arrived at a situation in which 21 Birmingham schools are under investigation by Ofsted.

"We await the results of the investigations by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw.

"Your response to the revelations leaves too many unanswered questions. You will, I am sure, want to place on record responses to the many unanswered questions surrounding this affair."

The letter asks Mr Gove to confirm that the meeting "in fact took place with a minister in your department, rather than simply with officials".

It asks the education secretary to confirm that the minister concerned was Lord Hill and that the government publish a record of the meeting, "including who was present and where it took place".

Mr Hunt also asks what action was taken regarding the information presented by Mr Boyes, "including whether it was relayed to you or to your special advisers".

The letter continues: "If no action was taken and you were not informed, can you explain why not?"

It also asks Mr Gove what reassurances the government can give that other warnings have not been ignored and what actions he will take "to monitor and respond to fragile schools, whether in relation to governance standards or financial probity."

Mr Hunt adds: "Do you now accept that there is a lack of local oversight in our school system that means an increasing number of problems are going unnoticed?"

A spokesman for the Department for Education said Mr Gove would be responding to the issues raised by Mr Hunt in due course.

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