Trojan Horse probe schools named
A list of the schools Ofsted has been sent in to inspect over an alleged plot by Muslim hard-liners to seize control of governing bodies has been published.
Birmingham City Council, which is carrying out an inquiry into the Operation Trojan Horse allegations, has made public a list of 18 schools following what it called "misinformation" in the national press coverage over the weekend.
Sir Albert Bore, council leader, also said Ofsted was not intending to publish its final inspection reports until "the first or second week of May".
He also said the council has not yet seen the draft version of the inspection reports.
Sir Albert went on to criticise the apparent leaking of an Education Funding Agency report into three city academies to a national newspaper at the weekend, and said the Government Cabinet Office had now launched an investigation to find out how the document found its way to the media.
The Trojan Horse allegations first came to light earlier this year, contained in an anonymous and unsigned letter, and have prompted separate on-going investigations by both the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted.
In all, 25 schools are being investigated over claims that male and female pupils were segregated, sex education banned and in one case that the al Qaida-linked firebrand Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was praised in an assembly - the preacher was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
In an investigation progress briefing today, Sir Albert described the appearance of news stories based on leaks, including some apparently from currently unpublished draft Ofsted reports, as "wholly reprehensible" given the gravity of the allegations, adding one school had inaccurately been included in press articles when it was unconnected with the current inquiries.
In total, 25 schools are involved across the three separate investigations taking place although the city council's chief executive Mark Rogers said he was in "no position" to identify the remaining seven schools because inquiries were still "in the early stages".
The council's investigation is being headed by former headteacher Ian Kershaw who is sifting through about 200 concerns raised since Trojan Horse emerged, while the DfE has appointed its own education commissioner, the former head of the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism unit Peter Clarke.
The DfE announcement of Mr Clarke's appointment on April 15 prompted dismay from teachers' leaders, Muslim community members and the chief constable of West Midlands Police Chris Sims who described it as "desperately unfortunate", and a decision which would be misinterpreted by some people, given his anti-terror background.
But the DfE said his experience of high-level investigations meant he was the right man to carry out his role effectively and in a "professional and dispassionate manner".
Mr Rogers said it was the council understanding that Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, had been over-seeing its inquiry for some time and that he would be publishing an "overview report" at the same time as the individual school reports were released.
He added both Mr Clarke and Sir Michael had separately spoken with the council in recent weeks, with Mr Rogers adding he was still working "to persuade" the head of the schools watchdog to give the local authority "early sight" of the Ofsted reports.
The council has also revealed the make-up of its Trojan Horse review group which Mr Kershaw will report to, which includes Kamal Hanif the headteacher of Waverley Primary School - one of the schools which has been inspected by Ofsted - the Labour MP for Hodge Hill Liam Byrne and the Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart as well as an, as yet, unnamed senior Muslim community member.
Meanwhile, Sir Albert re-stated that he had asked for a single joint investigation by the council, DfE and Ofsted however "for whatever reason, the Secretary of State (Mr Gove) decided he wanted to go it alone and appoint Peter Clarke".
He added: "Ofsted and the Secretary of State will operate in whatever manner they so wish."
Mr Rogers said: "We don't condone the Secretary of State's appointment but one small part of explanation is we do expect Peter Clarke to have a wider brief than just Birmingham. so in one sense we can understand he might want separation.
"But the value of collaborating is clear. Nobody wants to have to go through the evidence three times or have multiple reports."
Dubbed Operation Trojan Horse, the allegations of a co-ordinated move by a small group of hard-liners first emerged when an anonymous letter apparently setting out a blueprint for the takeover of governing bodies was leaked.
The document, which is unsigned and undated but which was sent to local authorities and teaching unions as far back as last year, claimed to have caused "a great amount of organised disruption" in the city, crediting the plan with forcing a change of leadership at four schools.
Anonymous whistle-blowers, including former teachers, have also come forward since the Trojan Horse claims hit the media.
The focus of the alleged plot is centred on Park View School, which is run by Park View Educational Trust - it also runs Nansen Primary and Golden Hillock.
However, its trustees have firmly denied all the allegations, branding the investigation "a witch-hunt".
Park View's governors have also pointed to the turnaround in pupils' GCSE results in recent years, with three quarters of students completing their studies having gained at least five grade A* to C qualifications, including maths and English, in 2013.