Britain plans anti-extremism training in schools

Written by PTI | London | Updated: Jun 2 2014, 00:21am hrs
Britain's schools watchdog is planning to announce specialised training programmes to protect students from radicalisation following purported attempts of Islamic radicals trying to wrest control of secular schools.

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (OFSTED) will present its inspection reports to a number of schools in Birmingham, which were believed to be at the centre of a plot by Islamic radicals.

OFSTED chief, Sir Michael Wilshaw, will report to UK education secretary Michael Gove over allegations around the so-called "Operation Trojan Horse" next week.

According to reports in the Sunday Times, they reportedly have found evidence of some governing bodies being dominated by individuals intent on changing the character of schools and that the vetting and scrutiny of governors has been too weak.

A Department for Education (DfE) source told the newspaper, some of the schools will be asked to accept training programmes designed to help them combat radicalisation and extremism.

Inspectors have conducted emergency checks in 21 schools following concerns about an alleged Muslim plot to wrest control and force out non-Islamic staff.

There have been claims of homophobia, the segregation of boys and girls in some lessons, refusal to teach sex education, bullying and invitations to extremists to speak at assemblies.

Tahir Alam, a governor at several of the other schools under investigation, has described the enquiry as a "witch-hunt".

Alam, who reportedly wrote a document entitled 'Meeting The Needs Of Muslim Pupils In State Schools' which advocated the Islamisation of teaching several years ago, believes the spate of investigations is politically motivated.

The newspaper has also claimed that he was previously the leader of HIKAM, an organisation which believed in imposing Islamic law and promoting gender segregation.

The latest revelations about the organisation he ran are likely to capture the attention of Peter Clarke, the former head of counter-terrorism at Scotland Yard, charged with investigating alleged extremism in schools.

Besides special measures being taken at the six schools, it is understood that inspectors have found cause for concern at as many as 10 others.

As part of their assessments, inspectors' questioning included asking if children were being taught about grooming and sexual exploitation.

Gove is expected to outline his reaction to the problems raised by the inspection reports shortly after they are delivered to him on June 10.

The existence of "Operation Trojan Horse", a purported blueprint for how Islamic radicals could take control of secular schools, was revealed by The Sunday Times in March and triggered a series of investigations.