UK

Ofsted Have Suddenly Decided 'Trojan Horse' Park View School Isn't So 'Outstanding' After All

09/06/2014 11:30 BST | Updated 09/06/2014 11:59 BST

Ofsted is facing serious questions today as three schools once praised by the beleaguered inspections body were declared failing placed in special measures in the wake of allegations of a "Trojan Horse" takeover plot by hardline Muslims.

Park View Educational Trust announced that its three schools - Park View Academy, Golden Hillock and Nansen Primary - have all been rated inadequate by Ofsted, as it robustly rejected the findings.

Park View was rated outstanding in its most recent inspection in January 2012 and extensively praised by Ofsted for academic results well above the national average, despite being in a deprived area of Birmingham. The report said students make "excellent progress in their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development." Nansen primary school was graded between good and satisfactory in its last Ofsted report, in November 2010.

park view school

The school mired in the Islamist 'Trojan Horse' controversy will be told that it faces being downgraded in a damning Ofsted report

Since the allegations of extremists inflitrating the school came to light, two members of staff at Park View Academy claimed a senior colleague had praised senior Al-Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki during assemblies. It also emerged that the Education Funding Agency had also launched a probe into the school over the misuse of public funds to pay £70,000 for loudspeakers to play the Muslim call to prayer.

In a statement, the Trust's vice-chair David Hughes insisted that the schools "do not tolerate or promote extremism".

The Trust will be seeking to mount a legal challenge to the judgments, he added.

Timeline: How Did Operation Trojan Horse Turn Into A Cabinet War Between May And Gove?

Hughes singled out Park View Academy - at the centre of some of the most serious allegations - saying that the speed at which it has been attacked is "truly shocking".

"We wholeheartedly dispute the validity of these gradings. Park View, Golden Hillock and Nansens are categorically not inadequate schools.

"Our Ofsted inspections were ordered in a climate of suspicion, created by the hoax Trojan letter and by the anonymous unproven allegations about our schools in the media.

"Ofsted inspectors came to our schools looking for extremism, looking for segregation, looking for proof that our children have religion forced upon them as part of an Islamic plot.

"The Ofsted reports find absolutely no evidence of this because this is categorically not what is happening at our schools. Our schools do not tolerate or promote extremisim of any kind.

"We have made a major commitment to raising all students' awareness of extremism. People who know and have worked with our schools are appalled at the way we have been misrepresented."

Ofsted reports into 21 schools, whose inspections were triggered by the Trojan Horse allegations, will be released by the watchdog later, along with a statement from chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw.

It was revealed earlier that David Cameron has ordered a "robust response" to the situation in Birmingham after investigations suggested some of the schools had attempted to fool inspectors by putting on "hastily arranged shows of cultural inclusivity", including in one case a religious education lesson on Christianity.

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Operation Trojan Horse: Timeline

Education watchdog Ofsted could step up its use of unannounced visits as a result of new findings and will also maintain a regular presence in the Birmingham schools involved, reporting directly to the Prime Minister and Education Secretary Michael Gove, who has been at the centre of a political storm over his handling of the chaos.

He was forced to apologise to the Prime Minister after a damaging feud with Home Secretary Theresa May, whose closest aide Fiona Cunningham had to resign following a bitter round of briefings and counter-briefings about efforts to combat extremism.

Both ministers are attending a meeting with Cameron and a specially-called session of the cross-government extremism task force to deal with the Birmingham allegations.

Cameron is meeting senior ministers including Gove, May, Nick Clegg, George Osborne, Eric Pickles, Baroness Warsi and David Laws in Downing Street to discuss the situation. The Education Secretary will also make a statement to MPs in the House of Commons about the Ofsted investigations later.

Many of the key inspection findings from schools at the centre of the allegations have already been leaked to the media, with at least five set to be placed in special measures.

Three schools have already broken cover to say they have been given a clean bill of health, receiving ratings of either "good" or "outstanding".

The allegations of Muslim extremism in Birmingham schools have sparked four separate investigations, including by the Department for Education, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police.

Earlier this year an undated and unsigned letter, now widely believed to be a hoax, was leaked to the media setting out a five-point plan dubbed Operation Trojan Horse for hard-line Muslims to seize control of schools by installing friendly governors, and forcing out uncooperative headteachers.