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Trojan Horse letter no hoax, says city's education chief

Published 16/07/2015

Birmingham's education commissioner has defended the letter which sparked the Trojan Horse investigation in some of the city's schools
Birmingham's education commissioner has defended the letter which sparked the Trojan Horse investigation in some of the city's schools

The anonymous letter which sparked the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham schools was "no hoax", according the city's education commissioner.

Sir Mike Tomlinson said inquiries by the Department of Education and Ofsted found evidence which "mirrored what was said in the letter".

Four separate investigations were conducted into the alleged plot by hardline Muslims to seize control of a number of school governing boards in Birmingham, the details of which were contained in the 2013 letter.

MPs later criticised the inquiries as "wasteful" and there were questions over the legitimacy of the letter, but Sir Mike told the BBC he believed its claims "were happening, without a shadow of a doubt".

"Whatever anybody says, it was no hoax," he told the broadcaster.

Sir Mike was appointed by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan last September with responsibility for improving standards in the city's classrooms.

He said schools had seen "significant changes" since the scandal erupted last year.

"One of the most important things right now is that we have much-improved governance in schools; we have much-improved safeguarding, helped by the creation of a multi-agency hub," he added.

While no evidence of radicalisation was found during the inquiries, the findings, specifically Ofsted inspections, did raise concerns that in some schools governors had exerted inappropriate influence over how schools were run.

Last summer, Ofsted issued a damning verdict on the running of a number of the city's schools and declared placed several into special measures.

In a letter to Mrs Morgan this week, chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw said the situation in Birmingham was "improving slowly".

In an update on the situation in Birmingham, sent to Mrs Morgan this week, Sir Michael wrote: "In Birmingham, the picture is improving slowly, although six of the 21 schools remain in special measures. This is mainly due to problems around the stability of leadership and the recruitment and retention of teaching staff."

But he warned authorities were losing track of children who were removed from admissions registers, which he described as "a serious safeguarding issue that has come to light as a result of our ongoing monitoring of schools in Birmingham and Tower Hamlets".

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