‘Overt intimidation’ still exists in the communities and schools rocked by the alleged Trojan Horse scandal two years ago, Ofsted has said
Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said that, despite improvements, the situation in these schools remained “fragile”.
Sir Michael’s concerns are contained in a new letter in which he gives a damning assessment of Birmingham city council’s children’s services, which he said is continuing to fail its most vulnerable children.
A recent HMI inspection, the third since 2014, found that Birmingham‘s political leaders, have “consistently shown themselves to be incapable of delivering the urgent and sustained change required to improve the safety and wellbeing of the city’s vulnerable children”.
And Sir Michael said that following continued meetings with the schools, council officials and the police, the shadow of the Trojan Horse scandal is still hanging over the schools, despite improvements.
Sir Michael writes: “As a result of these discussions, I am quite clear that, although many of these schools have improved and children are now much safer, the situation remains fragile.
“While the overwhelming majority of parents support the changes that have taken place over the past two years, there are a minority of people in the community who are still intent on destabilising these schools.”
In a meeting with headteachers of schools in east Birmingham, the chief inspector said it was “distressing” to see how “isolated and vulnerable many of them felt”.
“These headteachers are working hard in often difficult circumstances to provide the strong leadership necessary to keep their schools on track,” Sir Michael writes.
“However, it was commonly recognised by members of the group that the culture of fear that I identified two years ago had not gone away. One headteacher said that, ‘the problem has gone underground, but it is definitely still there.’ Other headteachers spoke of overt intimidation from some elements within the local community.”
Heads also raised issues of “organised resistance” to the PSHE curriculum and the promotion of equiality, he said, while others face “continual pressure from some parents to change the schools’ curriculum and staffing”.
A similar situation was endemic in other local authorities, such as Luton and Bradford, Sir Michael added.
“I am particularly concerned about the failure of these local authorities to address the problem of children missing from education and to satisfy themselves that these children are not being exposed to harm, exploitation or the risk of falling under the influence of extremist views,” he adds.
Sir Michael calls on education secretary Nicky Morgan to agree for an Ofsted inspector to be assigned to any local authority where the government considers that children “are at a greater risk of radicalisation or their safety is being put in jeopardy by poor safeguarding practices”.