Radio Sandwell Local News

Trojan Horse: Sparkhill head 'received death threat over gay teaching'

2015-05-04 10:21:00

Sarah-Hewitt ClarksonSarah Hewitt-Clarkson, headteacher, Anderton Park School

The head of a Birmingham school inspected as part of the Trojan Horse scandal received a death threat from a parent.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, head of Anderton Park School in Sparkhill, was sent the threat on social media.

It read: “Any headteacher who teaches my children it’s alright to be gay will be at the end of my shotgun.”

Speaking at the National Association of Head Teachers annual conference yesterday, Ms Hewitt-Clarkson also insisted the problems identified by a string of investigations into Trojan Horse had “not gone away”.

Four separate investigations were conducted into the alleged plot by hardline Muslims to seize control of a number of school governing boards.

She said: “Trojan Horse has not gone away.

“Those of us who were involved, we knew it was the tip of the iceberg.

“We still have dead animals hung on the gates of schools, dismembered cats on playgrounds.

“We have petitions outside schools, objecting to teachers teaching against homophobia.”

The union backed a resolution raising concerns that the recommendations of the Government-commissioned Clarke report into the Trojan Horse scandal had not been fully implemented.

NAHT member Alison Marshall told the conference: “Nine months after the Clarke report was published, with recommendations so clearly stated, very strong evidence given by our members and colleagues, we are still a long way from implementing those recommendations.

“We need to exert pressure to ensure that these recommendations are truly delivered, not in a superficial way and certainly not watered down.”

Ms Marshall later added: “Despite all the evidence we have, we’re faced with a situation where not one single governor implicated in the Trojan Horse scandal, has been investigated or even banned.

“Where is the justice in that?” Ms Hewitt-Clarkson told delegates: “All the behaviours and things we saw before are still there.

“So to have promises that have been broken, not followed through, are absolutely unhelpful, unsupportive and have left open gaps for certain individuals to start up again.”

The union specifically raised concerns that recommendations in the Clarke report around limiting the number of governing bodies one person could sit on, and preventing certain individuals from being involved in running schools had not been acted on.

Delegate Tim Gallagher said that because governors were volunteers, there was limited legislation in the area.

He told the conference it was “blindingly obvious” that in a “loose, largely unregulated framework” inappropriate behaviour can be found in the governance of schools.

“It does not need to be as profoundly dangerous as that found in Birmingham, it can be the micro-managing of a school to the detriment of our members and the school itself,” he said.

Mr Gallagher told the conference: “We need high quality, mandatory governor training.

“We need to regulate the number of governing body posts any one individual can hold.

“We need a database of governors and we need to be able to keep a check of the suitability of governors.”

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who was not present for the debate, said: “There is no place for extremism in our schools and we continue, absolutely, to work to eliminate any form of extremism.”

The Government had been working with local schools and Birmingham City council to ensure there was not a repeat of the scandal which hit the city’s schools last year, she said.

Mrs Morgan added: “This is a reminder that this is a serious issue and something that 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.”

A lot of work had been done on implementing the Clarke recommendations, Mrs Morgan said, adding the Conservative party had an extremism strategy in its election manifesto.

If the party was in power after the General Election, this would be worked on immediately by the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and others, the Education Secretary said, adding a database of governors would be a discussion for the next extremism taskforce.

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