Anglican governor rejects 'shocking' report into Birmingham schools

Mon 09 Jun 2014
By Sarah McAllister

An Anglican priest and governor of one of the schools criticised in a report by the education watchdog into suggestions of a takeover plot by hard-line Muslims has rejected Ofsted's claims. 

The chief inspector of schools has published what he says is a "shocking" report into claims of extremist plots to take control of schools in the city, with at least five schools being placed in special measures.

Park View Academy, Golden Hillock and Nansen Primary have all been rated 'inadequate' by Ofsted.

Father Oliver Coss is an Anglican priest and governor at Regent's Park School, one of the 21 schools put under investigation by Ofsted.

He told Premier's Marcus Jones on the News Hour why he thinks there's been an overreaction by Ofsted. 

One girl, who didn't want to be identified, thinks her school's too extreme.

She said: "they're strict with us basically and they use religion as an excuse.

"Basically, they don't want boys and girls to mix and stuff and if they see you talking to a boy they'll call your parents or come to your house, which they did to a lot of people."

However, Park View Educational Trust's vice-chair David Hughes has also defended his school's performance, he said: "We support the role of Ofsted in holding schools to account in a fair and transparent way, but we wholeheartedly dispute the validity of these gradings.

"Park View, Golden Hillock and Nansen are categorically not 'inadequate' schools".

Liam Byrne MP is calling for a new interfaith task force to be set up to help deal with the fall out of these investigations.

He claims Muslims are being unfairly represented and says he's already begun discussions with the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, about how to go about setting up the group.

Dr Andrew Smith is Director of interfaith relations for the Bishop of Birmingham.

He tells Premier talks are needed to find the best way forward.

Home Secretary Theresa May's responded in the House of Commons this afternoon.

After reports suggesting there was conflict over the issue between her and Education Secretary Michael Gove, she praised her colleague for intervening.

She said: "Yes we need to get to the bottom of what has happened in the schools in Birmingham, but it is thanks to this Education Secretary that the Department of Education has for the first time, a dedicated extremism unit to try to stop this sort of thing from happening."

Another inquiry by the Education Funding Agency has also been published; it found some schools hastily arranged Christian events ahead of a visit by inspectors to make them look more cultural.

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