Oldknow Lies About School Trip

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Trustees Claim Senior Leaders Told Them The Trip Had Been Cancelled

Five schools implicated in the Trojan Horse scandal have been declared “failing” by Ofsted, one of them included Oldknow Academy in Small Heath.

The school has now come under fire for allegedly lying about a school trip to Saudi Arabia for pupils and staff. Trustees claim senior leaders wrongly told them the trip had been cancelled when in fact it wasn’t.

The trip was funded with approximately £50,000 of tax payers money, a contract to a travel company with links to a director at the school was also obtained.

Ofsted have claimed, “Worryingly, trustees were not aware that a visit to Saudi Arabia had taken place this year for pupils and staff, despite a similar trip last year receiving criticism from inspectors at the previous inspection due to failures in safeguarding.

“Indeed, they had been told by senior leaders that the visit had been cancelled.”

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) had raised financial concerns about two publicly funded Muslim-only trips to Saudi Arabia in 2012 and 2013, the latter costing £47,200. They then discovered the contract for the trips did not go through a formal tender process.

The trip was organised through Hilal Tours and Travel Ltd based in Ward End, it is run by company director Umar Zaman aged 38. Zaman reportedly has a website which tells potential clients to send deposits of £500 to his address at 149 Burlington Road, Erdington.

The academy has also been criticised for banning “un-Islamic” tombolas and raffles at a school fair. Although the Ofsted report states changes were being made to introduce more cultural and religious awareness, the principal had received over 100 letters from parents requesting their children be removed from collective worship.

The Trojan Horse controversy arose over an alleged plot to introduce hard lined Islamic views into schools.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan stating, “too much poor practice remained unchallenged during the summer term”. He added that although plans were put into place to improve the curriculum at schools, they lacked the direction to “actively promote” core British values and tolerance of different faiths and backgrounds.

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