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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

UK schools inspector given bodyguards after threats

Sir Michael Wilshaw was abused after investigating a suspected plot to oust head teachers and promote hardline Islamic teaching in UK schools 

Michael Gove, a former UK education minister who ordered the 'Trojan Horse' inquiry in 2014. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Michael Gove, a former UK education minister who ordered the 'Trojan Horse' inquiry in 2014. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The UK’s former chief schools' inspector was given two bodyguards for protection because of threats he faced while investigating an alleged plot to promote hardline Islamist religious teaching, he said in an interview published Sunday.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said he was screamed at during a public meeting and threatened on social media while heading an inquiry into the so-called Trojan Horse plot in 2014 centred on schools in the city of Birmingham.

“What was truly shocking was the level of personal intimidation. I was personally targeted. There was a real sense of threat,” he told the Sunday Times.

The Trojan Horse affair was sparked by an anonymous letter which alleged a plot to oust head teachers and introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos.

The affair sparked a political furore and divisions within the UK government over the scale of extremism in UK schools and how to tackle it.

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Read more:

Unregulated schools are incubators for terrorism, warns UK

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Only two people were barred from schools following a series of inquiries that found no evidence of terrorism being promoted in schools but unearthed evidence that showed senior officials had failed to challenge extremist views.

A UK court ruled this month that one of the 25 schools under investigation, Al-Hijrah in Birmingham, was guilty of sex discrimination for segregating girls and boys outside of lessons from the age of nine.

Sir Michael said the school should have been shut down months before it was finally taken over and was “shocked” when he visited. “Girls there were treated incredibly badly,” he told the newspaper.

He claimed that education officials were so concerned about being accused of Islamophobia that they were not closing down failing or illegal schools, including Islamic ones.

“They [the UK’s education ministry] have become politically correct in not wanting to confront these schools,” he said.

Education inspectors set up a unit in January 2016 to identify schools operating illegally – including unregistered Islamic schools - which have resulted in 38 being handed warning notices and ordered to change their practices or face closure.

One senior police officer warned last month that unregulated schools were becoming a breeding ground for terrorism.

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