A report into an attempted takeover of Birmingham schools by Islamist extremists has uncovered evidence of “coordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in the city”, according to the Guardian.
The paper, which has seen a leaked copy of the report, due to be published later today, says that the Metropolitan Police’s former head of counterterrorism found a “sustained and coordinated agenda to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam”.
The report was commissioned by former education secretary Michael Gove after a series of allegations appeared about strict Islamic practices being forced upon students at nominally secular schools.
It adds: “Left unchecked, it would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit their participation in the life of modern Britain”.
The report also states there are potentially serious problems in some academies – schools that are not under local authority control. It says: “In theory, academies are accountable to the secretary of state, but in practice the accountability can almost amount to benign neglect where educational and financial performance seems to indicate everything is fine.”
The report was written by Peter Clarke, whose appointment was initially seen as controversial, with some fearing that appointing a former counterterrorism chief to look at the problem could alienate Muslims.
Mark Rogers, chief executive Birmingham City Council, said: “We’ve had to deal with a national political agenda that has deliberately conflated religious conservatism with an extremist agenda that is all to do with radicalisation and violent extremism.”
Clarke lambasts the council, however, saying: “There was never a serious attempt to see if there was a pattern to what was happening in school governing bodies. The council’s approach has been variously described to me as appeasement and a failure in their duty of care towards their employees.”
He says there is “incontrovertible evidence” that elected councillors and council officials knew about the practices at the schools and yet did not act.
Speaking of the ideology taught at the schools, he adds: “Rejecting not only the secular and other religions, but also other strains of Islamic belief, it goes beyond the kind of social conservatism practiced in some faith schools which may be consistent with universal human rights and respectful of other communities. It appears to be a deliberate attempt to convert secular state schools into exclusive faith schools in all but name.”