2 The investigations |
12. We have put together the following timeline of
key events connected to the Trojan Horse affair:
Birmingham head tells DfE and others of his concerns about Birmingham schools
November: Anonymous 'Trojan Horse' letter sent to Birmingham City Council and others, claiming the existence of a plot to impose a more hardline Muslim ethos on Birmingham schools, resulting in the ousting of four headteachers.
December: The DfE receives a copy of the letter. West Midlands police counter-terrorism unit, alerted by BCC, start to examine the case.
5-6 March: First inspection by Ofsted of Park View.
7 March: The existence of the letter becomes public. The DfE, Education Funding Agency and Birmingham City Council confirm they are investigating.
17-18 March: Ofsted undertakes a second inspection of Park View.
21-25 March: EFA visits Park View academies.
27 March: Michael Gove writes to Ofsted asking them to investigate 15 named schools
31 March: The DfE says it is looking into claims that the Trojan Horse plot targeted 12 schools.
2-10 April: Ofsted inspects 15 schools.
9 April: The governors of Park View Educational Trust describe the ongoing investigations as a "witch-hunt".
10-11 April: EFA visits Oldknow Academy.
11 April: Birmingham City Council appoints Ian Kershaw as Independent Chief Advisor, reporting to the Trojan Horse Review Group
14 April: Birmingham City Council says it is looking into allegations involving 25 schools in the city, including primaries, secondaries and academies. Council leader Sir Albert Bore says he does not believe there is a "plot".
15 April: Michael Gove appoints Peter Clarke as Education Commissioner to take an overview of evidence in relation to Birmingham schools and the allegations relating to the 'Trojan Horse letter'.
20 April: Sir Michael Wilshaw takes personal charge of Ofsted's Trojan Horse investigations.
3 May: Sir Michael says Ofsted has inspected 21 schools.
3 June: Three of the schools under investigation publish their Ofsted reports. Ninestiles and Small Heath are rated as "outstanding" and Washwood Heath as "good".
3 June: Home Secretary Theresa May writes to Michael Gove asking whether it is true that the DfE was warned about the allegations in 2010 and Birmingham Council warned as far back as 2008.
9 June: Ofsted publishes inspection reports on the 21 schools and the DfE publishes Education Funding Agency reports on Park View Educational Trust and Oldknow Academy Trust. Five schools, including four academies, are placed in special measures. Lord Nash writes to the four academies, setting out the steps which must be taken by 4 July to address breaches of the funding agreement, the Academies Financial Handbook and the Independent Schools Standards. The five schools are: Park View Academy, Nansen Primary School, Golden Hillock School (together forming Park View Educational Trust); Oldknow Academy; and Saltley School and Specialist Science College. A sixth school, Alston Primary School, was already in special measures and remains so.
19 June: Saltley School governors resign en masse.
15 July: Chair of Governors, Tahir Alam, and board of trustees at Park View Educational Trust resign.
18 July: Draft of Clarke report published in the Guardian. Kershaw report published by Birmingham City Council.
22 July: Clarke report published by the DfE. Nicky Morgan makes statement to the House.
19 August: Oldknow Academy Trust governors resign and new members appointed, led by Dr Barry Henley, a Birmingham City Councillor. Bhupinder Kondal withdraws resignation as head of Oldknow and takes up post again.
24 September: Appointment of Sir Mike Tomlinson as education commissioner for Birmingham.
16 January: Publication of Wormald review of DfE action on warnings received prior to the Trojan Horse letter
29 January: Statement to the House by Nicky Morgan on progress in implementing Clarke report recommendations.
Action by the DfE before the Trojan Horse letter
13. Rumours about what was happening in schools in
Birmingham have allegedly been around for at least a decade. The
DfE acknowledged that a headteacher from the city, Mr Tim Boyes,
told the Department of his concerns in 2010. Mr Gove did not attend
the meeting, although another Minister was present.
In addition, Ian Kershaw found "evidence [which] suggests
that the DfE was aware of the connections between some of the
individuals and the potential risks that this posed".
14. In his statement to the House in June 2014, Mr
Gove accepted that "There are questions for [...] the Department
for Education" about whether warning signs were missed. He
asked the Permanent Secretary, Chris Wormald, to investigate how
the DfE had dealt with warnings "since the formation of this
Government and before".
After a considerable delay, the Wormald review was finally published
in January 2015. It found that there were no instances where specific
"warnings" were ignored by the Department and no cases
where Departmental officials or Ministers acted inappropriately.
It did find that "the Department has lacked inquisitiveness
on this issue, and [
] has not historically treated the issue
with the same robustness as it has demonstrated in dealing with
warnings about, for example, child protection".
Mr Wormald concluded that "the Department needs to be more
vigilant, more inquisitive and have more robust systems in place
than it has in the past".
Reaction to the Trojan Horse letter
15. On 7 March 2014, when the existence of the Trojan
Horse letter became public, the DfE and the EFA confirmed to the
press that they were investigating the allegations but did not
make clear what form these investigations had taken since December
2013. Nearly three weeks then passed before Michael Gove wrote
to Ofsted on 27 March, commissioning inspections of 15 schools
in Birmingham under section 8(1) of the Education Act 2005. Mr
Gove's letter referred to "serious allegations made in relation
to some of these schools, including a large number of reports
in the press in the last month" and stated that "Press
coverage also alleges that the same behaviours have been seen
in other local schools".
16. Mr Gove told the House on 9 June that "when
the specific allegations in the Trojan horse letter were shared
with the Department for Education, it was rapid in seeking to
deal with those problems and ensuring that appropriate inspection
and action was taken".
We requested further information on the actions of the DfE following
receipt of the letter. In response, the DfE set out how between
December and the end of January 2015 officials had "kept
in touch with BCC over the progress of its internal enquiry into
the allegations and began its own investigations of the allegations
using open source checking on the schools and individuals mentioned
within the letter".
The DfE supplied the following timeline of "significant dates"
which shows how action within the DfE sped up once Ofsted has
started its inspections in Birmingham.
· 5 February: DfE officials talk to whistleblowers about Park View School.
· 10 February: DfE passes on detailed allegations about Park View School to Ofsted, who subsequently decide to inspect the three academies run by PVET.
· 12 February: Meeting between Michael Gove and Sir Albert Bore.
· 5-6 March: Ofsted section 8 inspection of Park View School.
· 7 March: DfE hears concerns from a former governor of Golden Hillock School.
· 17-18 March: Ofsted full section 5 inspection of Park View School.
· 19 March: Michael Gove hosts meeting with BCC, West Midlands Police and other government departments to discuss Birmingham.
· 20 March: Michael Gove meets two Birmingham MPs.
· 24 March: Michael Gove chairs meeting with three Birmingham MPs and an MP's researcher
· 21, 24, 25 March: The Education Funding Agency visits the three academies in Park View Trust to monitor compliance with Funding Agreements and Independent School Standards.
· 27 March: Michael Gove commissions Ofsted to carry out a batch inspection of 15 schools in Birmingham.
· April 2-10: Those batch inspections of 15 schools are carried out by Ofsted.
· April 10-11: The Education Funding Agency visits Oldknow Academy to monitor compliance with the Funding Agreement and Independent School Standards.
· April 15: Peter Clarke is appointed as Education Commissioner and DfE publishes a press notice together with his Terms of Reference. 
Coordination of investigatory activity
17. By mid-April 2014 the number of investigations
into schools in Birmingham had escalated, with the EFA, BCC, Ofsted,
and the Education Commissioner, not to mention the police, all
conducting inquiries with different terms of reference and involving
different schools. With all this activity already underway, on
15 April 2014 Michael Gove appointed Peter Clarke, former head
of counter-terrorism at the Met police, as Education Commissioner
with a remit:
To further investigate the allegations and the
representations and evidence received to date, and by drawing
on a range of further material and evidence, to establish fully
what has happened in the schools of concern; to understand the
implications for the school system both in Birmingham and more
widely with a view to making recommendations to ensure that schools
in Birmingham are well-governed and that Birmingham's children
are adequately safeguarded from exposure to extremist views or
18. The appointment of Peter Clarke was greeted with
concern by some of those involved in Birmingham. The Chief Executive
of BCC explained that the difficulty was "the message [the
appointment] sent to communities that somebody with a strong counterterrorism
background was being sent in, and also the message it gave to
head teachers that we were not having a joint inquiry with the
Councillor Jones explained:
The local authority had hoped to conduct an inquiry
that was joint between us, the Department for Education and Ofsted,
and DCLG were also involved in those discussions [
] At the
11th hour, the Secretary of State decided it would not be a joint
inquiry, and announced the appointment of Peter Clarke to conduct
a separate inquiry. He then decided to instruct Ofsted to inspect
the schools separately [
] We could have achieved a cheaper
and more streamlined inquiry had we had one inquiry rather than
the three disparate ones.
19. Ofsted questioned Cllr Jones's chronology and
asserted in supplementary evidence that it "would not have
been appropriate for Ofsted to be part of a 'joint inquiry'".
It coordinated the publication of its first batch of inspection
reports with those of the EFA which was looking at the schools
which were academies.
20. There were also attempts to coordinate the inquiries
conducted by Ian Kershaw and Peter Clarke.
Mr Kershaw's terms of reference specifically
asked him to "coordinate your investigation with Mr Clarke
in relation to [academy] schools if they fall within the remit
of both investigations".
Relevant evidence was shared where appropriate, although the different
timescales for completion meant that not all evidence could be
shared. The Kershaw team interviewed 76 witnesses, 18 of whom
were seen jointly by Ian Kershaw and Peter Clarke. The Kershaw
inquiry also received information from seven interviews conducted
by Peter Clarke's team.
21. The Kershaw report was published earlier, and
in a fuller form, than planned because of a leak to the media
of the Clarke report. This meant that the BCC Review Group which
was overseeing the Kershaw investigation was given an "exceptionally
limited time-a matter of a few hours-to have sight of, absorb,
reflect upon and consider the executive summary" of the report
before they were expected to comment on it.
Although the Review Group broadly supported the Kershaw recommendations,
they expressed concern that it had not had sight of Mr Clarke's
report and that "to run separately two independent investigations
of the same issues has unquestionably served to reinforce suspicions
that there are 'parallel universes' between central and local
Government responses to the reports
22. As requested by the former Secretary of State,
Ofsted pulled together its findings from the inspections of Birmingham
schools into an advice note which was published at the same time
as the inspection reports in June 2014. In the note, Sir Michael
Wilshaw set out a list of nine recommendations for implementation
by the DFE. On 14 October, following the first monitoring inspections
of the schools in special measures, Ofsted issued a second advice
note with four further recommendations.
23. We asked Sir Michael in January 2015 what progress
had been made in implementing the recommendations in his advice
notes. He told us "very limited progress".
Following our meeting he asked the DfE to update us on progress.
In March Lord Nash provided us with a chart matching DfE actions
against Sir Michael Wilshaw's advice.
24. The Government accepted all the recommendations
in the Clarke report and on 29 January 2015 the DfE published
a progress report, which indicated that "all the recommendations
have been implemented or are on track".
The Secretary of State declared that as a result "I am confident
that if the events we witnessed in Birmingham were repeated again
today they would be identified and dealt with more quickly and
in a far more effective way".
25. The Government did not issue an official response
to the Kershaw report which was made primarily to Birmingham City
Council, but nevertheless contained recommendations pertinent
to the DfE and Ofsted, including on academies (see paragraph 42
below) and on the requirement on schools to provide a daily act
of collective worship wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian
character. There has been no public attempt by the DfE to pull
all these reports together and address them in a coordinated way.
Conclusions and recommendations
26. There was
a proven "lack of inquisitiveness" within the Department
for Education prior to the receipt of the Trojan Horse letter.
Whilst this may be partially explained by the general level of
awareness of such issues at the time, the timeline supplied by
the DfE indicates that the Department was slow to take an active
interest between the receipt of the letter in December 2013 and
March 2014 when the issue became public. This is more surprising,
given the change in context and the heightened emphasis on combating
radicalisation and extremism. We are not convinced that "open
source checking" was a sufficient response to the seriousness
of the allegations being made to the DfE.
27. The sheer
number of organisations which became involved indicated the complexity
of emerging oversight arrangements for schools. The number of
overlapping inquiries contributed to the sense of crisis and confusion,
and the number of reports, coming out at different times and often
leaked in advance, was far from helpful.
28. The scope
for coordination between inquiries by the EFA, Ofsted and others
is restricted by their statutory roles but more coordination could
and should have been achieved. The DfE must ensure that such needless
duplication does not happen again.
29. All the reports included recommendations that
went far beyond the situation in the particular schools concerned.
The findings of the reports need to be drawn together. We recommend
that DfE draw together the recommendations from all the investigations
and set out its response.
11 Review into possible warnings to DfE relating to
extremism in Birmingham schools (the Wormald Review), January
2015, DfE Back
Kershaw report , p. 24 Back
HC Deb, 9 June 2014, col 265 Back
The Wormald Review, conclusions Back
Letter from Michael Gove to Sir Michael Wilshaw, HMCI, 27 March
HC Deb, 9 June 2014, col 279 Back
Department for Education (EIS0002) p1 Back
Department for Education (EIS0002) p2 Back
Ofsted (EIS0001) para 6 Back
Kershaw report, p. 94 Back
Kershaw report, p. 75 Back
Trojan Horse Review Group, Report to Leader of Birmingham City
Council, 18 July 2014, p4 Back
Ibid, p4 Back
Oral evidence taken on 28 January 2015, HC (2014-15) 880, Q72 Back
Department for Education (EIS0003) Back
HC Deb, 29 January 2015, col 1015 Back