Ofsted’s report into the 21 Birmingham schools involved in the so-called ‘Trojan Horse’ plot has been released (pdf) and it does not make for pleasant reading. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, summaries that Ofsted found a ‘culture of fear and intimidation has taken grip’ in the Birmingham schools. The report suggests that the schools were targeted and an ‘organised takeover’ did occur. Here are five things you need to know about the Ofsted report:
1. A culture of fear and intimidation
Wilshaw says that some of the 21 schools who were once judged to be good or outstanding have 'experienced high levels of staff turbulence, low staff morale and a rapid decline in their overall effectiveness.’ In some instances, a breakdown of trust between governors and staff has been found, with some head teachers telling the inspectors they were frightened of expressing different views to those of the governors.
Some of the words used to describe the situation include ‘intimidated', ‘undermined' and ‘bullied'. One teacher would only speak to Ofsted in a supermarket car park while some female staff complained of unfair treatment from male members of staff. Ofsted has said the safeguarding from governors in five schools is inadequate while others are in desperate need of improvement.
2. An organised campaign to alter the character and ethos
The inspectors found evidence that governors of some schools had exerted ‘inappropriate influence’ on the day to day running of schools — including narrowing of the curriculum, manipulating staff appointments and misuse of school funds. The makeup of some governing bodies has changed ‘markedly’ over recently years, leaving the schools vulnerable to ‘influence by unsuitable governors’.