Giving his evidence, or rather, stories concocted from facts, lies and distortions peppered with some spices, the “political weapon”, Michael Wilshaw stated that he had spoken to parents in Birmingham and had been “hugely impressed” by them. What he did not mention that he was left stumbling for words after parents asked him probing questions.
The meeting was held at 6.30pm on 25th June at the Council House in Birmingham and it was organised by Liam Byrne MP. It was a closed meeting and invitees were given 48 hours’ notice. The invitees were told that they could bring along a few people to the meeting. 24 hours later the invitees were asked to provide names of the people they were going to bring.
It is claimed by the parents who attended that Wilshaw dodged many questions and partially acknowledged failures on the part of Ofsted.
Shifting Goalposts and “Conservative Islam”
As already mentioned Michael Gove’s definition of extremism varies with the already controversial PREVENT definition. Being significantly broader, his problem is with orthodox Islam itself. Whitehall officials have stated that,
“he thinks anybody who holds conservative Muslim views is a bit of an extremist.“
Wilshaw, under pressure from the questioners, eventually uttered the same. One parent in his question to Wilshaw asked whether, in the absence of extremism and radicalisation, which was the original raison d’être prompting the investigations, why aren’t the investigations and the media attention now dead and buried? Wilshaw highlighted that there was some evidence of bullying of teachers (a topic to be addressed in an upcoming blog) and some issues of,
“preaching conservative Islam”.
In referring to this comment, the parent who has been closely monitoring all meetings and evidence submissions to government regarding the Trojan Hoax, stated,
“The goalposts keep on shifting for the Muslims: Jihadism, extremism and now unsubstantiated claims of bullying and bigoted attitude towards people who adhere to the Islamic faith, faithfully”
The parent also went on to state that the level synchrony between Gove and Wilshaw was telling of their collaboration.
Independence – Gove and Wilshaw
Wilshaw was also asked by another parent whether Ofsted had become the tool of the DfE to confirm Michael Gove’s views. He rigorously defended the independence without giving any substantive evidence of their evidence. Pushed further on this, the parent argued that much of what had been found by Ofsted was concluded by Gove before Ofsted went in, and that he found it strange Ofsted corroborated exactly the DfE’s findings.
“I can see how that can be perceived.”
Ofsted’s Malpractices Questioned
A member from Golden Hillock School, which is under Park View Trust cornered Wilshaw on the lapses in Ofsted’s approach and inconsistency in their inspections. Wilshaw was asked to justify how their governing body was rated inadequate despite the fact that it only been constituted for 90 days leading up to the investigation As Mohammed Ashraf, who was present at the meeting and described Wilshaw being left red-faced, Tweeted (26th June 2014),
“The Chair of Governors for Golden Hillock told Sir Michael Wilshaw last night, ‘you may be Sir or honourable, but how dare you judge me in this for 90 days’”
This is also evidenced by the fact that there is only one report under Golden Hillock School Academy. Wilshaw replied:
“The findings hold up”
From 1st October 2013, Golden Hillock School had become a new school, taken from LEA and pressured into become an Academy by the DfE. Many of the findings were based on events and information, such as minutes of meetings, prior to the School becoming an Academy. In other words the governing body and the school was judged without due accord to Ofsted’s framework.
Commenting on the “raid-like” inspections, one parent highlighted the disenfranchisement the whole Ofsted inspection caused many of the parents to feel. Acknowledging this merely stated,
“maybe they were”
Another parent, who is a medical doctor by profession, pressed him regarding the Ofsted Inspector’s behaviour at Park View school who commented on the length of the beard of some of the staff. Wilshaw rejected the claims outright stating,
“I find it difficult to believe”
The parent then explained that he was a medical doctor, and was reporting an incident which was reported by white, non-Muslim members of Park View school who then reported it to the white, non-Muslim assistant head. Willshaw again reiterated that he found it difficult to believe. After a continued exchange Wilshaw was asked what he would do if it was a HMI inspector and what he would do if it was a contractor. Struggling to give a satisfactory, the parents described that put his head down and said,
“I will go back and investigate and if it’s proven, the inspector will be reprimanded”.
He could not say what would happen if the inspector had been a contractor.
None of the above unethical malpractices, concerns of bias, or the feelings of the government were given to the Education Select Committee. Perhaps the reason was because it did not fit Gove’s neocon narrative, which Wilshaw is slavishly following. There are still some outstanding questions which need answering. Who were the teachers who claimed to be abused? Who coaxed them into giving skewed testimonies banking on the fact that they were underperforming teachers who were vulnerable? Who are heads which Wilshaw has been talking to? And more fundamentally, who are the people behind the fabricated “Trojan Horse” document?
Answers are needed in order to establish the reality of what is happening in Birmingham, and in London, where the neocons are sitting comfortably, fuelling the fire to fit their policies.