Towards the beginning of this year, I covered the takeover of Golden Hillock School in Birmingham by ARK Schools, the Academy chain which had, in scandalous circumstances, taken over another Muslim-majority school subjected to spin and lies: Oldknow Academy. I also found ARK’s links to the “Christian influence” (undue influence?), how ARK has been a favoured chain by the notorious anti-Muslim neocon Michael Gove, whilst Ofsted’s head, Michael Wilshaw, not only headed the first ARK Academy school, but was an Education Director at ARK before becoming Chief Inspector.
Disconcertingly, the “old-boys network” of pro-Israel, hate-mongering neocons also extend their links into ARK. “Vanilla tax”-avoiding Stanley Fink, a major donor of the Tories, bigoted Henry Jackson Society’s Israeli-crime whitewashing project Just Journalism, became the chair of ARK in 2009.
Applying the presumptions about Muslims propagated by neocons (Muslims are untrustworthy due to Islam and their actions are to be seen as a form of sinister subversion) the Trojan Horse test set out for Muslims, there is one hell of plot here for Peter Clarke to investigate.
Despite this, ARK was keen to placate the bruised local Muslim community. As I recorded in February of this year, David Gould – a practising Christian, former principal of St. Albans Academy, and a board member of the controversial Birmingham Education Partnership which has benefited financially from the Trojan Hoax plot– ferried in a van-load of Muslims as a form of reassurance.
The blurb on ARK’s website for the school looked promising. Their vision for the school – now re-named to ARK Boulton Academy – is proudly stated as follows:
“As a learning community we aim to grow together in understanding and cooperation, respecting each other’s needs, beliefs and background, working ever more closely to fulfil individual potential for the greater good. Together with families and the local community, Ark Boulton Academy is dedicated to helping our young people to develop a lifelong love of learning, a sense of personal and civic pride and the confidence to not just navigate the modern world, but to shape it.”
A number of controversial incidents at the school, however, suggest that the initial engagement was simply a sham.
It seems that “individual potentials” of pupils have been sacrificed for ARK’s “greater good”. My sources state that the parents are furious at the new management for their perceived underhanded tactics in forcing decisions which have detrimentally affected the progress of pupils.
Prior to the takeover by ARK, Year 8 students had decided and committed to various subjects and spent the year studying them throughout Year 9. Katie Oliver, Projects Director for ARK in a meeting between the months of April and May “guaranteed” that the pupils would following through with their choices. This false impression allegedly remained with the pupils and their parents through the year. On the last day of term, in July, the School wrote to parents that Year 9 pupils were required to re-select their subjects. Due to the late notice, sources state that they were left unable to challenge this decision. They further state with emphasis that there was no prior consultation or notice given until the last day of term.
Parents were left in limbo during the summer holidays and as a result were distressed not knowing the outcome. The ARK school gave no indication through the holidays as to the decisions regarding the subjects. To the further frustration of parents, the school started 2 weeks after other similar schools in the area (15th September 2015).
This not exactly a demonstration of the “together on families and the local community” part of their vision.
Friday Prayers Stopped and the Threat of Channel Referral
Given the vision’s proud assertion of “respecting each other’s needs, beliefs and background”, the following is somewhat disturbing.
Friday prayers were prayed at the school for over 20 years. Students were led originally by an external Imam, then by Muslim teachers, and towards the latter end of the period, by older pupils themselves. My sources state that form tutors were warning pupils towards the end of the last school year that Friday prayers would be coming to an end. It has been further stated that when pupils were demonstrably upset by the changes, they were told that if they protested the decision, they would be referred to Channel.
Subsequently, ARK Boulton’s Principal, Herminder Channa, announced in July that there would be no more Friday prayers. On Fridays the school ends at 1.45. This time however conflicts with most Friday prayer times in mosques in the locality, with Friday prayers having already started or ending towards that time. With the onset of winter, (and the prayer times shortening due to the lesser daylight hours), it is more likely that pupils will completely miss their Friday prayers.
Safeguarding Issue – Missed Meals
As shown the school’s “school day” webpage, ARK Boulton is currently enforcing a lunch time period of half an hour. Sources within the school are stating that this time is not sufficient for the pupils to finish their meal, especially if they obtain their meals late due to being at the back of queues. It has been confirmed that children are forced to leave the hall even if they have not completed their lunch whilst other students have missed meals.
My sources state that this is a clear safeguarding issue contravening the “healthy living” aspect of safeguarding.
ARK has been brought into “save” the schools from themselves, and despite the promises, as is customary now with the treatment of the Muslim minority, assurances have not followed through to the detriment of the education of children.
The above incidents are most disconcerting; threats of Channel, assurances misleadingly and damagingly broken, and beliefs and backgrounds most definitely not “respected”. Sounds like another day of corporate-backed, Zionist/Tory treatment of the Muslim minority.