Updated: Saturday, 4th April 2020 @ 10:16am

Manchester schools linked to Muslim extremism 'plot' – but council deny any investigation taking place

Manchester schools linked to Muslim extremism 'plot' – but council deny any investigation taking place

| By Kenny Lomas

Manchester schools have been linked to an alleged 'plot' by hard-line Muslim extremist groups to exert control on schools.

Manchester City Council have confirmed to MM that they did discuss the allegations with Birmingham City Council, where 25 schools are under investigation, but that no such investigation is taking place in Manchester.

The 25 schools are under investigation over an alleged hard-line Muslim plot to force out governors and headteachers and Bradford has also been linked to the allegations.

Birmingham City Council said it was appointing a new chief adviser to directly handle at least 200 complaints received in relation to ‘Operation Trojan Horse’.

The council said Ian Kershaw, managing director of Northern Education, will take up the chief adviser role.

They confirmed they will be setting up a review group of MPs, councillors, national teaching and governors groups, the police, and faith leaders, to look into the claims.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore also said the council had spoken to the local authorities in both Manchester and Bradford during its three-month long investigation.

MM spoke to Birmingham City Council who confirmed that Manchester City council had been in touch regarding similar allegations.

A spokeswoman for Manchester City Council told MM: "We're aware of the ongoing review in Birmingham.

"There is however no investigation happening here in Manchester. 

“We maintain close contact with our schools and were any similar issues to arise here we would work very closely with them to address any concerns as quickly as possible."

Mr Kershaw will publish his findings to the review group, which will then report to a council committee.

The council's investigation is due to initially report back in May and is running in parallel to a separate inquiry by the Department for Education (DfE),

Concerns over how some of the city's 430 schools were being run first emerged when an anonymous letter known as ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ was leaked.

The letter claimed a small group of radical Muslims were pursuing the teaching of hard line and extremist beliefs in classrooms and that uncooperative headteachers and governors were being forced out.

The school trustees have accused the council of ‘a witch-hunt’, and have firmly denied all the claims, pointing to very good academic results among its pupils.

All of the city's MPs recently wrote to Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, calling for a full inquiry into the issues to settle the matter.

A DfE spokesperson said its investigation was continuing and it would be inappropriate to comment further.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed the DfE's probe.

At a press conference in Westminster, the Lib Dem leader said: "I am very concerned whenever I hear allegations that schools, funded by the taxpayer, become vehicles for the propagation of particular ideologies which divide young children and pupils off from other people in society.

"The best faith schools, partly because they are conscious of their own faith, reach out to other faiths, reach out to other schools in the local community, teach about other faiths, rather than allowing them to become silos of segregations."

Image courtesy of Mrehan, with thanks.