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DfE appoints Education Commissioner for Birmingham

Sir Mike Tomlinson has been appointed Education Commissioner to oversee Birmingham schools following the Trojan Horse scandal.

He will work jointly with Birmingham City Council to oversee improvements to the standards of education in the city. His appointment follows Peter Clarke’s report into allegations of extremism in Birmingham schools, which found evidence of an “aggressive Islamic ethos” and a determined effort by hardline Muslims to gain control and influence of the governing bodies of some schools in the city.  

Education secretary Nicky Morgan MP said: “I am pleased that we have been able to appoint someone of Sir Mike Tomlinson’s calibre and experience to this crucial role.

“With his strong track record in local government and education he is the right person to ensure all children in Birmingham receive the education they deserve so they can reach their potential and go on to build a better future.”

Sir Mike has been involved in education for almost 50 years, most notably as chief inspector of schools between 2000 and 2002. He was also chief adviser to the London Challenge and chair of the Hackney Learning Trust, which helped transform poor performing education services in Hackney.

He said: “It is vital that children in Birmingham receive the highest standards of education and I will be working hard towards that goal.

“I look forward to working closely with Birmingham City Council and we will be making rapid improvements in the coming weeks and months to provide reassurance to parents, pupils and the local community.”

His main responsibilities in the role will be to make sure Birmingham council drives immediate improvement in the schools mentioned in the report, while working with any others that may be vulnerable. He will also improve the council’s structures and help them to work better in supporting schools.

Birmingham City Council chief executive Mark Rogers said: “The education secretary’s appointment of Sir Mike Tomlinson is a good decision for Birmingham. His experience and reputation give us confidence that we will be constructively supported and challenged in our efforts to move forward at pace from the recent controversies.

“We have already had a positive experience of working with our safeguarding commissioner, Lord Warner, and we look forward to an equally productive relationship with Sir Mike in his new role.”

Since the Trojan Horse report was released, the trustees at the three academies overseen by Park View Educational Trust (PVET) and at Oldknow Academy have been replaced. An interim executive principal for PVET and an interim principal to Golden Hillock have both been appointed and the former principal of Oldknow Academy has returned. Saltley School, whose governors were criticised in the reports, now has an approved interim executive board in place to drive forward improvements.

The scandal has also seen the government introduce a requirement for all schools to actively promote the “fundamental British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

While Sir Mike will focus on the council’s role in providing education services, his work will feed into the wider review of Birmingham’s governance that PSE reported Sir Bob Kerslake began earlier this month.

(Image: c. Chris Young/PA Archive/Press Association Images)

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