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Thursday, Jul 31 , 2014 ( Shawwal, 1435)

Updated:10:00 PM GMT

Ofsted Targets UK Muslim Academy: Governor

OnIslam & Newspapers
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Park View, a Muslim-majority academy, has come under emergency investigation during the past weeks over extremism allegations

CAIRO – A Christian Governor at a Birmingham Muslim-majority high school has refuted allegations of extremism that have hit a number of schools recently, assuring that the school was a victim of “witch hunt” by Ofsted inspectors.

The school came under attack "under the pretext of concerns about extremism and threats to the education of pupils," David Hughes, a trustee and governor at Park View school in Birmingham for more than 15 years, told the Guardian on Wednesday, April 9.

Park View, a Muslim-majority academy, has come under emergency investigation during the past weeks over extremism allegations that lacked evidence.

The snub inspection was launched after serious complaints from former and present staff, claimed Liam Byrne, the local Labour MP.

The Labour MP added that the investigation was prompted by growing concerns over financial corruption and alleged extremist preaching in the premises.

"When allegations are made, they need investigating. We can’t ignore them," Byrne said.

Byrne's allegations have been vehemently rejected by the School's Christian governor, Haughes, who denied school involvement in the alleged extremism plots.

"In all my time as a governor we have not received a single complaint about 'extremism' or 'radicalism'," Hughes wrote in the school's spring newsletter.

"If we had we would have investigated it openly and thoroughly."

Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) have been holding investigation over an alleged Islamic fundamentalist plot to "take over" schools in the city that was outlined in a document termed as Operation Trojan House.

Although the four-page document was unsigned by staff, a snap inspection was undertaken.

In February 2013, a Birmingham school has apologized for serving non-halal food to Muslim students following an investigation on the school’s catering.

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.

Biased Inspectors

As the investigation gets underway, school staff accused inspectors of behaving in an inappropriate way adding that they appeared determined on condemning the school.

Hughes accused the Ofsted team of giving "every indication of having no wish other than to condemn the school – even the outstanding features."

According to Lee Donaghy, an assistant head at the academy, representatives asked teachers if they were homophobic as well as making jokes about the number of male Muslim staff members.

Last March, reports claimed that about £70,000 were spent on playground loudspeakers that reportedly alleged to be used for prayers.

The claim was denied by the school administration. "The speakers were £900 and part of a PA system in the school hall, the cost of which did not exceed £10,000. The speakers are primarily used for functions rather than call to prayer."

Defending the Muslim-majority school, Hughes wrote to parents saying that Park View is "the most successful" in Birmingham.

"Fifteen years ago, when I first became a governor, the school was a much different place," wrote Hughes.

"Less than 20% of pupils were gaining five A*-Cs and in one year just one out of 90 pupils gained a grade C or above in maths.

"Just one! A lot of us found that completely unacceptable and made it our business to make a concerted, sustainable change."

The school governor noted that school would welcome the investigation in case of "providing constructive criticism."

"However, I strongly suspect that is now very unlikely," he said.

"The revisit of the inspection team gave every indication of having no wish other than to condemn the school – even the outstanding features."

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