The extremism at the heart of the Trojan Horse scandal in Birmingham won’t be solved overnight, education secretary Nicky Morgan has admitted after hearing reports of death threats sent to teachers and “dismembered cats on the playground”.
Speaking to journalists at the NAHT conference in Liverpool, Ms Morgan responded to the claims of Anderton Park School headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson made during a debate earlier today that the behaviour at the centre of the scandal had “not gone away”, acknowledging there were still issues.
Ms Morgan said she had spoken to at least one headteacher about the issues alluded to by Ms Hewitt-Clarkton, and said she continued to work to eliminate “any form of extremism” in schools.
She told reporters: “I think this a reminder that this is a serious issue and something which is not going to be solved overnight. We have taken action to remove, and continue to take action to remove people from being in schools who don’t follow British values.
“There is a lot of work which has gone on in terms of implementing the Clarke recommendations and in relation to governors, the decisions so far, and obviously we have talked about an extremism strategy in our manifesto, and that’s about disclosure of governors and more information on schools’ websites about who the governors are.”
She said the prospect of a database of governors barred from serving on boards was “a discussion for the next extremism taskforce”.
She said action “absolutely has been taken”, and described the scandal as the result of the actions of a “small” but “determined” people, and said it wasn’t something which would be solved “lightly or simply”.
When questioned about Ms Hewitt-Clarkson’s claims that teachers had received death threats over their attempts to tackle homophobia and that dead animals had been “hung from school gates”, Ms Morgan said she was aware that some of those responsible for the issues identified in the wake of the Trojan Horse scandal could still be operating from outside the school system.
She said: “I have spoken to at least one of the heads who has been through some of this but, as I say, these people are determined, and you are absolutely right so say that people might move from one position to not necessarily holding a position but launching a sustained campaign.
“What the headteachers need to know, and I think what the Clarke report showed, is that we are in a better position now to offer support to those heads and that’s the conversation I have had.”