4 Jun 2014

‘Outstanding’ Birmingham Academy now ‘inadequate’ – Ofsted

Oldknow Academy, one of the Birmingham schools at the centre of the Trojan horse allegations of an attempted take-over by Islamic extremists, has its Ofsted rating slashed after its latest inspection.

In January 2013, Ofsted rated Oldknow Academy as outstanding in all areas.

Oldknow is now one of the schools where allegations of an attempted extremist take-over – dubbed the Trojan Horse plot – are being investigated. The allegations have triggered a new Ofsted inspection. Channel 4 News has seen the inspectors’ draft report – which rates Oldknow as inadequate.

Next week it is expected to be placed in special measures.

So is it at the heart of an extremist plot?

Teacher Samir Rauf (see video below for more) told Channel 4 News that the suggestion “makes me wonder what the world is coming to.”

Mr Rauf said when the allegations came out, they made him angry: “we’re here doing our job .. I’ve been teaching for 10 years.”

‘Exceptionally good’

The Ofsted report from the last inspection of Oldknow Academy, in January 2013, painted a very different picture.

It found that: “The academy’s contribution to pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is exceptionally good.

“The very wide range of different cultures is celebrated,opportunities are provided for prayer at appropriate times, and assemblies reflect the different faiths groups in the academy. The way in which the academy respects different faiths and cultures, for example, by ensuring there are separate changing rooms and single – sex physical education lessons, is greatly appreciated by parents and the wider community.

“The academy is a friendly and racially harmonious place, where discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.

Watch Gary Gibbon’s report on the government spat over how to deal with extremism in schools>

After years of bad results, Oldknow became an academy in 2012, and is now extremely popular and oversubscribed.

It teaches children aged between six and eleven (years 3-6). It is a large school, with 600 pupils in six classes per year. Its pupils leave the school with higher than average standards.

The 2013 Ofsted report found that: “The range of subjects taught is enhanced through specialist teaching in Arabic, physical education, music and science and through the many additional opportunities which are offered to pupils.”

The curriculum has not changed since the previous report, so why the change of heart from the inspectorate?

Teacher Samir Rauf described the inspectors as having “tunnel vision”. He said “to be honest they didn’t really care less about the actual work that we’re doing on the ground, the extra-curricular stuff that the school’s done for the children, what’s happening in the classroom … they came in with an agenda and they wanted to know certain things.”

Oldknow parents have launched a campaign in defence of the school.

Ofsted told Channel 4 News that the claims against it are baseless and that its inspectors have carried out their work with great professionalism and integrity. Its report is due to be published officially next week.

Dr Shaaz Mahboob of British Muslims for Secular Democracy told Channel 4 News that the education department should be looking into how the Ofsted inspection process was being implemented, to consider “whether they overlooked some of the malpractices or serious issues that they should have focused on last time when the schools were inspected, or are they doing something totally different this time?”