Oldknow’s Fresh Start


A school in the middle of the Trojan Horse scandal set for turnaround

Oldknow Academy based in Small Heath has been taken over by a chain of academies for a fresh start after being at the heart of the Trojan Horse controversy. The scandal involved the curriculum of certain schools being influenced by strict Islamic principles.

Oldknow was placed in special measures in April following a surprise inspection by Ofsted who were investigating the scandal. The school had previously been rated ‘outstanding’ in last year under the leadership of head teacher Bhupinder Kondal, who had run the school for 12 years.

However she unexpectedly quit at the beginning of the year claiming she was pushed out by those involved in the Trojan Horse plot. After her resignation, deputy head Jahangir Akbar took the reigns as head teacher.

During his run the school segregated girls and boys and effectively became a faith school. Mr Akbar was suspended and Ms Kondal was re-instated as head of the school.

But the school was not living up to expectations and after a recent Ofsted inspection it was discovered that, “little has been achieved to address deep-seated weaknesses in governance and safeguarding” at Oldknow, while “some staff do not trust one another”.

Now an interim board of trustees have announced that a network of academies known as ARK will be brought in from next year to improve the failing school.

Staff and parents were informed about the news which will see Oldknow using the advice and resources of the successful ARK network to improve standards.

Ms Kondal said, “I think this is a fantastic opportunity and a positive step forward for the school.”

She returned to the school straight away and was “determined” to make it ‘outstanding’ once again.

“When I became a teacher I never thought I would be a head teacher,” she added. “I have lived in Small Heath, I grew up there, I went to school there, I played in Small Heath’s streets.

 “I wanted to make an inner-city school outstanding and show the world that children from an area like that can do just as well or even better than those in affluent areas.

“We got it there once, we can do it again and it is ultimately what the children deserve,” she said. “Parents want the best education for their children and that is what we are going to give them.”

ARK, an education charity, runs 31 academies across the country, including four in Birmingham – ARK Tindal and ARK Rose primary schools, and secondary schools ARK Kings and St Alban’s Academy.

The school, previously called Oldknow Junior School, became an academy in 2012. It was a standalone academy run by Oldknow Educational Trust. As an ARK school, Oldknow will remain a non-selective, non-religious, mixed school.


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