Extremism in schools: the Trojan Horse affair - Education Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

The investigations

1.  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. (Paragraph 26)

2.  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. (Paragraph 27)

3.  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. (Paragraph 28)

4.  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. (Paragraph 29)

Role of Ofsted

5.  Ofsted's inability to identify problems at some Birmingham schools on first inspection when they were found shortly afterwards to be failing raises questions about the appropriateness of the framework and the reliability and robustness of Ofsted's judgements and how they are reached. Either Ofsted relied too heavily on raw data and did not dig deep enough on previous occasions or alternatively the schools deteriorated so quickly that Ofsted reports were rapidly out of date, or it could be that inspectors lost objectivity and came to some overly negative conclusions because of the surrounding political and media storm. Whichever of these options is closest to the truth, confidence in Ofsted has been undermined and efforts should be made by the inspectorate to restore it in Birmingham and beyond. (Paragraph 41)

Lessons for the DfE

6.  Our recent report on academies and free schools addresses many of the issues of oversight which have arisen in the context of the Trojan Horse inquiries. The greater autonomy of academies makes it easier for a group of similar-minded people to control a school. While it should be remembered that several of the governors criticised in Birmingham were local government appointees, the DfE needs to be alert to the risks of abuse of academy freedoms of all kinds and be able to respond quickly. (Paragraph 60)

7.  It is vital that information is shared effectively between the various bodies responsible for oversight of schools. This was a problem in Birmingham and the DfE needs to keep its new arrangements under review to ensure that they are working well. (Paragraph 61)

8.  The recent steps taken to strengthen the Due Diligence and Counter Extremism Division are welcome, all the more so for being overdue. The unit should also have a higher profile. We recommend that the Secretary of State make an annual written ministerial statement on the priorities and achievements of the DDCED. (Paragraph 62)

British values

9.  The British values which are now to be promoted in all schools are universal and an important part of what children should learn. We support the introduction of the requirement on all schools to ensure that such values are actively promoted to all students. Monitoring how they are promoted in individual schools must be done with common sense and sensitivity. (Paragraph 72)

Impact on children in Birmingham

10.  The children in the schools affected in Birmingham deserve better from all involved. The DfE must continue to monitor the situation in the individual schools. We welcome the extension of the appointment of Sir Mike Tomlinson as education commissioner to address wider problems in education in Birmingham. (Paragraph 79)

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Prepared 17 March 2015