by John Rossomando
Last June, the U.K.'s Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) found evidence that hardline Islamists had attempted to take control of some state schools.
At least 100 Islamist teachers and teaching assistants implicated in last year's "Trojan Horse" teaching scandal in Birmingham, England may face lifetime teaching bans.
Last June, the U.K.'s Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) found evidence that hardline Islamists had attempted to take control of some state schools. The report found that staff and headteachers felt "intimidated," "undermined" or bullied into making changes they opposed.
Some headteachers with records of improving classroom standards were either marginalized or forced out of their jobs. In some cases, teachers faced unfair treatment due to their gender or religious beliefs.
The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), which oversees teachers in the U.K. and has the authority to ban them, is reviewing 30 cases, but as many as 100 teachers and assistants may be targeted.
The Sunday Times reports that NCTL obtained dossiers on some of those educators from the U.K.'s Department of Education. The dossiers reportedly contain information from the "Trojan Horse" investigation, which found a "co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action" by a number of individuals who sought to introduce an "intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos" into selected Birmingham schools.
Abusive practices, such as forcing students at Park View Academy, one of the Birmingham schools targeted by last year's inquiry, to kneel on tiles in "stress positions" were observed by British investigators. NCTL investigators also found that an IT technician at Park View used school equipment to copy a video containing "typical Al-Qaeda footage, in which the individuals had their faces obscured with scarves and were holding guns."
Students found to be dating each other were sent to an "isolation unit, where they work in individual booths of silence." Designated senior students, known as prefects, were told to report romantic relationships between students to senior staff.
More than 50 Park View teachers – called the Park View Brotherhood – exchanged as many as 3,000 messages in a WhatsApp group that included offensive comments about British soldiers and claimed that Lee Rigby's murder and the Boston bombings were hoaxes. The messages also discussed segregating boys and girls.
Britain's home minister Theresa May recently called for stronger measures against Islamic extremism in U.K. schools.
"The allegations relating to schools in Birmingham raise serious questions about the quality of school governance and oversight arrangements," May said. "How did it come to pass, for example, that one of the governors at Park View was the chairman of the educational committee of the Muslim Council of Britain? Is it true that Birmingham city council was warned about these allegations in 2008? Is it true that the Department of Education was warned in 2010? If so, why did nobody act?"
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