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Saturday 10 May 2014

Trojan Horse? What Trojan Horse?

This blog has observed with interest the series of allegations made in the pages of the Telegraph by Andrew “transcription error” Gilligan about a supposedTrojan Horse” plot to take over and then “Islamise” schools in Birmingham – and allegedly elsewhere, notably Bradford. It has also been observed that Gilligan’s predictions have not yet, in many cases, come to pass.
Too ashamed to write the latest piece?

Those who have observed Gilligan and the Tel’s obsession with Scary Muslims will not be surprised about this: after all, The Great Man has for some time been churning out knocking copy about the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and elected Mayor Lutfur Rahman, but Rahman is still there, and about to contest another election. And no evidence of improper conduct has yet been found.

So it has not been a total surprise to see the Telegraph asserting this morning thatTeachers and governors in Birmingham have been told to expect a ‘firestorm’ when Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, publishes the findings of its investigations into the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot”, only to find that (a) Gilligan is absent from the field of play, and (b) the headline is not supported by the rest of the article.

Edward Malnick’s piece informs readers “BBC Radio 4's Today programme reported that senior officials at Birmingham City Council suggested a report by Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, will focus on claims about the governance and leadership at the schools”. What happened to those allegations about the curricula being tinkered with? And the assertions made about some of the teachers?

And then comes “However teachers and governors are said to have been told at a meeting this week that the officials had seen no evidence of the alleged ‘Trojan Horse’ plot” – despite “a series of exposés by The Telegraph which disclosed how [the] alleged plot had put schools under pressure illegally to segregate classrooms and change teaching to reflect radical Islamic beliefs”.

Remember what was actually found: “There was gender segregation in some classes at Park View Academy and Golden Hillock. Some classes observed had boys sitting at the front of the class and girls around the edges. There were also lessons where boys and girls sat at the same table but on opposite sides. We also observed lessons where boys and girls were mixed”.

And this is what the Tel is still saying: “An inspection report by the Department for Education, leaked to The Telegraph, found that girls at Park View school were made to sit at the back of the class”. This, and Gilligan’s previous allegations, are not supported by a reality check. Now it seems that the plot is not a plot after all. Anyone might conclude that significant exaggeration has taken place here.

This may have adversely affected children’s education. That’s not good enough.

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