Birmingham city council is currently investigating an alleged attempt by Muslim plotters to take over control of 25 schools.
Concerns as to how some 430 of the city’s schools were being run were first raised last year when a leaked anonymous letter detailed the implementation of what it referred to as Operation Trojan Horse.
Operation Trojan Horse, which some say is a hoax, is a plan allegedly hatched by fundamentalists to replace senior staff in Birmingham schools with new leaders whose Islamic beliefs are in line with their own. The letter gave directions on how to oust and replace uncooperative, secular headteachers and school governors.
The letter also gave credit to this same plot for having forced a change of leadership at four schools.
“We have an obligation to our children to fulfill our roles and ensure these schools are run on Islamic principles,” the letter states.
“You must remember this is a ‘jihad’ and as such all means possible to win the war is acceptable,” the letter continued.
As the investigation expanded from these initial four schools to a broader 25, Birmingham’s city council said it had appointed a chief advisor to examine the more than 200 complaints that had arisen. The council is to publish its findings by mid-June.
In wake of the repots, Education Secretary Michael Gove has sent additional inspectors to 15 Birmingham schools.
The schools in focus are state-funded but self-governing academies. Established in 2000, these academies are independent of local authority control, which, city council leader Albert Bore stated, is “part of the frustration”: the city council has no direct control over the schools, which answer to the national Department for Education (DfE).
“We do not know who’s on the governing body [of the schools],” Bore said.
“It’s in the DfE’s interest to settle some matters with us so we can move forward – it’s unsatisfactory that you don’t know who’s on the governing body of academy schools,” Bore said.
Bore went on to state that, “As more schools have come forward than the ones named in the Trojan Horse document, issues have arisen about behavior in schools, the way in which schools are run.”
Notably, some 22 percent of Birmingham’s residents identified themselves as Muslim in the 2011 census.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stated that schools should be prevented from becoming “silos of segregation”, and added that the Department for Education “is taking this very seriously.”