Chair of governors at Bradford school says links to Trojan Horse controversy are 'completely false' (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Chair of governors at Bradford school says links to Trojan Horse controversy are 'completely false'
A chair of governors in Bradford has warned that reports linking Bradford schools to Islamic extremism is beginning to "feel like a witch hunt."
Faisal Khan was speaking following reports relating to two Bradford schools, Carlton Bolling College and Laisterdyke Business and Enterprise College, comparing them to Birmingham schools criticised by governing body Ofsted for pushing an Islamic agenda in secular schools.
And Bradford Council leader David Green has warned of making comparisons between two totally different situations.
A recent BBC report said it had seen minutes from governing body meetings at Carlton Bolling which showed that governors had regularly asked whether a broad religious agenda met the spiritual needs of students. It also reported gender segregation had taken place for trips, and in sex education classes.
Senior staff and governors from Carlton Bolling also visited Park View Academy - one of the schools at the centre of the Birmingham controversy.
Earlier this week five Birmingham schools were placed into special measures after inspectors found a "culture of fear and intimidation" had developed in some schools and, in several, governors exerted "inappropriate influence" over how they are being run.
Mr Khan, who is chair of governors at Carlton Bolling and an independent councillor, said suggestions the governing body was trying to impose a strict Islamic ethos on the school were wrong. He was on the board of governors for Laisterdyke before the entire board was fired in April. Although there had been rumours of a Trojan Horse style plot at the school, a subsequent Ofsted report blamed poor governance, and did not mention any religious reasons for their removal.
Of the claims about Carlton Bolling, cllr Khan said: "We deliver the full curriculum including arts and drama, and we meet the needs of our children Muslim or not, more recently in recognition of the diverse challenges we employed staff with eastern European language skills. The facts are that we recruit the best staff irrespective of religion and the school is headed by a non Muslim headteacher leading a diverse and dedicated workforce.
"These unfounded and unsubstantiated fears are part of smear campaign to link Bradford to a non-existent plot.
"This has left communities like Bradford feeling under attack. Everyone needs to take a step back before more damage is done to these schools and the reputation of many including Ofsted. There are others who are deliberately quoting out of context, and this kind of carelessness is giving legitimacy to begin the witch hunt in Bradford and in the case of others appear to be at the centre of a plot to marginalise the Muslim community."
Despite recent newspaper and TV reports into the two Bradford schools, both Ofsted and Bradford Council have said there are no Trojan Horse investigations into either school.
Cllr Green said: "I think there has been some simplistic media coverage liking issues at the school with Trojan Horse, despite the fact that this was discredited over recent weeks.
"I think there have been issues with regards to governance but we have tackled these issues in full knowledge of the DfE. Is it about Islam? The most serious complaints I've heard don't relate to Islamification but rather how governors have dealt with heads and staff. We have to make sure we have the best staff that don't feel intimidated. The issues I've heard about in Birmingham are totally different to the ones I've had reported to me.
"People need to be very careful about the language they use. At the moment people seem to be conflating the issues of Islamic extremism with Conservative Islam. You wouldn't do that with any other religious group. Just because you believe strongly in your religion doesn't make you an extremist."