Birmingham Schools Vigilance Ordered

16 January 2015, 11:49

An internal review into the Trojan Horse scandal has found no instances of the Department for Education ignoring "specific warnings'' of extremism in schools but it "lacked inquisitiveness'' on the issue in the past.

It also says that the department needs to "always be vigilant and inquisitive'' and have robust systems in place to play its part in preventing and dealing with such issues.

The review, by the Department for Education's top civil servant Chris Wormald, was commissioned by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan in the wake of investigations last summer into an alleged plot by hardline Muslims to take over a number of Birmingham schools.

"I have found no instances where direct warnings of 'extremism' in Birmingham schools were received by the Department and ignored,'' Mr Wormald concludes.

The review looked at the 20-year period between 1994 and December 2013 and any warnings received by the DfE relating to alleged extremism in Birmingham schools.

It found that on a small number of occasions, the department received information about these issues, but concludes that these were largely dealt with "in line with procedures in place at the time''.

There were no instances in which ministers, officials or advisers acted inappropriately, the review adds.

But it goes on to say that while there was no evidence of warnings about violent extremism in particular schools, warnings were raised about issues such as difficult relationships between staff and governors in certain schools, the potential narrowing of a school curriculum and the fact that these issues "have the potential to cause political, cultural and religious tensions in schools and their communities''.

These matters are similar to those raised in Peter Clarke's report into the Trojan Horse situation, the review says.

Mr Wormald concludes: "Whilst I have not found instances of warnings having been ignored or of individuals having acted inappropriately, I have found that the Department has lacked inquisitiveness about this issue, and that procedures could have been tighter than they were. Whilst this is an easy thing to say in hindsight, there is a marked contrast between, for example, how the Department responds to reports of child protection issues and how it has historically responded to reports of potential extremism.

"Overall I find that in future the Department needs to be more vigilant, more inquisitive and have more robust systems in place than it has had in the past if in future it is to play its part in preventing and countering the issues identified in the Clarke Report.''

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