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Commissioners brought in to Birmingham over 'Trojan Horse'

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Two commissioners are to be brought in to oversee change at Birmingham City Council following its failure to identify and act on concern about some of the schools at the centre of the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair.

The news follows the publication of former anti-terrorism chief Peter Clarke’s report on the issue, which said there had been a “co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham”.

The report also said Birmingham was “aware of the practices and behaviours” outlined in the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter long before it surfaced.

The council published its own report, by former head teacher Ian Kershaw, into the problems last Friday.

New education secretary Nicky Morgan said in an oral statement that the government was “taking action to put things right”. She said she would appoint a new education commissioner within the council “to oversee its actions to address the fundamental criticisms in the Kershaw and Clarke reports, while building resilience in the system as a whole”.

She added: “The commissioner will report jointly to Birmingham’s chief executive and to me. If we are unable to make rapid progress with these new arrangements, I will not hesitate to use my powers to intervene further.”

Ms Morgan said communities secretary Eric Pickles had also spoken to Birmingham’s leader Sir Albert Bore (Lab) about the need to address the “wider weaknesses that these events have highlighted in the governance culture of the council”.

She added they had agreed that Sir Bob Kerslake, the head of the civil service, would lead a review of governance in the city council, issuing recommendations by the end of the year.

In a statement Sir Albert welcomed the appointment of an education commissioner and said the council would work closely with the government to make the appointment.

“We have had a very positive experience working with the commissioner for children’s safeguarding Lord Norman Warner and we look forward to an equally constructive relationship with the new education commissioner,” he said.

“We have already accepted all of the recommendations in Ian Kershaw’s report and believe we are already making progress on most of the recommendations set out in Peter Clarke’s report.

“In addition, we are already working on a number of key areas such as strengthening governor appointments and training and our whistleblowing process and reporting, as well as continuing our work in reviewing our relationship with all schools.”

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