Trojan Horse letter “no hoax”, Birmingham schools chief says

The anonymous letter that sparked the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham schools was “no hoax”, according to the city’s education commissioner.

Sir Mike Tomlinson (pictured) said inquiries by the Department for Education and Ofsted had found evidence that “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 the legitimacy of the letter was questioned. But Sir Mike told the BBC he believed the things that were alleged “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 and given responsibility for improving standards in the city’s classrooms.

There had been “significant changes” in the schools since the scandal erupted, he said.

“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 the Ofsted inspections, did raise concerns that some school governors had exerted inappropriate influence over how schools were run.

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

In a letter to Ms Morgan this week, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said the situation in Birmingham was “improving slowly”.

In an update on the situation sent to Ms Morgan this week, Sir Michael writes: “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 warns that authorities are losing track of children who have been removed from admissions registers, which he describes 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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