The Department of Education has published a damning report today which suggests there was an ‘aggressive Islamist agenda’ pursued in a number of the ‘Trojan horse’ schools in Birmingham.
Peter Clarke, a former counter-terror chief, published the report, which found evidence of a coordinated plan to impose strict Islamic teaching on pupils.
Michael Gove, the former Education Secretary commissioned the report. His successor, Nicky Morgan has presented the results of the investigation to the House of Commons:
The report details evidence of a ‘coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city’.
‘Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain’, the report said.
Here are some key quotes from the report:
‘I neither specifically looked for nor found evidence of terrorism, radicalisation or violent extremism in the schools of concern in Birmingham. However, by reference to the definition of extremism in the Prevent strand of the Government’s counter terrorist strategy, CONTEST, and the spectrum of extremism described by the Prime Minister in his Munich speech in February 2011, I found clear evidence that there are a number of people, associated with each other and in positions of influence in schools and governing bodies, who espouse, endorse or fail to challenge extremist views.’
On governors asserting a religious agenda:
‘I found evidence in Birmingham that some governors went beyond [the normal remit of governors] and used the argument about raising standards to justify increasing the influence of faith in [the] schools.’
On the effect of this religious ethos on pupils:
‘First, I have been told by teachers that they fear children are learning to be intolerant of difference and diversity. There is evidence that this is the case both inside and outside school, such as on school trips.
Second, although good academic results can be achieved through a narrowing of the curriculum and a focus on core subjects, it comes at a cost. This is that young people, instead of enjoying a broadening and enriching experience in school, are having their horizons narrowed. They are not being equipped to flourish in the inevitably diverse environments of further education, the workplace or indeed any environment outside predominantly Muslim communities. They are thus potentially denied the opportunity to enjoy and exploit to the full the opportunities of a modern multi-cultural Britain.
Third, the very clear evidence that young people are being encouraged to accept unquestioningly a particular hardline strand of Sunni Islam raises concerns about their vulnerability to radicalisation in the future. I have heard evidence to the effect that there are real fears that their current experiences will make it harder for them to question or challenge radical influences.’
On the mechanism of the plot:
‘There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham. This has been achieved by gaining influence on the governing bodies, installing sympathetic headteachers or senior members of staff, appointing like-minded people to key positions, and seeking to remove headteachers they do not feel to be sufficiently compliant. Some of these individuals are named in this report; most are not. Whether their motivation reflects a political agenda, a deeply held religious conviction, personal gain or a desire to influence communities, the effect has been to limit the life chances of the young people in their care and to render them more vulnerable to pernicious influences in the future.’