Extremism probe into 25 schools in Birmingham

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Twenty-five schools are being investigated as part of an alleged takeover plot by hardline Muslims in Birmingham, it was today revealed.

Birmingham City Council has launched a probe into more than 200 allegations of extremism and radicalism including the city's schools.

It was first brought to light in an anonymous letter dubbed Operation Trojan Horse which set out a blueprint for seizing control of governing bodies and forcing out those who did not agree.

The council's update comes as the Department for Education, which is running its own parallel inquiry, said that Ofsted had now been sent in to a total of 15 city schools since the claims came to light.

The Trojan Horse document, which is unsigned and undated but which was first leaked to local authorities and teaching unions as far back as last year, claimed to have caused 'a great amount of organised disruption' in the city, and credited the plan with forcing a change of leadership at four schools.

The focus of the allegations has been the Park View Educational Trust, which runs three city schools – all of which have been subjected to snap Ofsted inspections in recent weeks.

Anonymous whistleblowers, including former teachers, have also come forward since the Trojan Horse claims came to light, making accusations about the segregation of boys and girls in classes and assemblies, a ban on sex education, and bullying of non-Muslim staff.

One former staff member at Park View Academy in Alum Rock alleged a colleague had in an assembly praised the firebrand al Qaida-linked Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

However, the school trustees have firmly denied all the claims, branding the allegations 'a witch-hunt'.

Last week, the city council announced it was taking on extra staff after being inundated by queries on the issue from concerned staff, school governors and parents.

The city's MPs also wrote a joint letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove urging him to launch a full inquiry to establish any truth in the claims.

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