‘Islamist plot to take over schools’

Tina Ireland resigned as head of Regents Park school last year

An apparent plot by Muslim fundamentalists to destabilise and take over state schools in England is being investigated by council officials and monitored by police.

Birmingham city council began an inquiry after the circulation of what purport to be strategy documents outlining ways of ousting head teachers in Muslim areas of the city in order to establish schools run on Islamic principles.

The anonymous documents were passed by the council to West Midlands police. The paperwork, which appears to have been written by disaffected Muslims, has been leaked to The Sunday Times. It is not known whether the council’s investigation, which was opened in November, has established the authorship of the documents.

The revelation comes as a further setback for the government’s academies and free schools programme, where institutions are freed from council control and run as semi-independent bodies by a sponsor or trust.

The documents highlight a five-step strategy, allegedly written by unnamed Salafists — fundamentalist Muslims — to remove unwanted head teachers. The schools targeted include failing institutions that could be turned into academies.

The Sunday Times revealed last week that Park View Academy in Birmingham is being investigated by the Department for Education for allegedly sidelining non-Muslim staff and trying to teach Islamic studies, despite not being a faith-based state school.

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The documents suggest that the strategy, called Operation Trojan Horse, should be used in Bradford and Manchester as well as Birmingham. “We have an obligation to our children to fulfil our roles and ensure these schools are run on Islamic principles,” they argue.

The papers say the first step is to identify poor-performing state schools in Muslim areas; then Salafist parents in each school are encouraged to complain that teachers are “corrupting children with sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their children say Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sports”.

The next steps are to “parachute in” Muslim governors “to drip-feed our ideal for a Muslim school” and stir up staff to urge the council to investigate. The strategy stresses the importance of having an “English face among the staff group to make it more believable”.

Finally, anonymous letters are to be circulated to MPs, press and ministers. “All these things will work towards wearing the head down, removing their resolve and weakening their mindset so they eventually give up.”

Birmingham schools named as targets in the document include Regents Park, where the head teacher, Tina Ireland, was given an “outstanding” Ofsted report but resigned last year amid questions over the school’s exam results. Others are Adderley Primary School and Saltley School, a specialist science college where the head, Balwant Bains, resigned last year. Bains quit after an Ofsted report concluded that he had a “dysfunctional” relationship with the governors.

Ahson Mohammed, the interim head teacher at Saltley, was appointed in November after Bains’s resignation.

Mohammed said the school categorically denied any suggestion that Bains resigned as a result of pressure from Muslim extremists.

“The leadership team of the school has been appointed by the . . . same governing body which has been here for a long time,” he said. “The previous head teacher was also non-Muslim. Balwant Bains was also non-Muslim.

“So in reality whether they were Muslim or non-Muslim is obviously not the issue. What they want is quality leadership, not what faith or what race you are from.”

Mohammed said the school has been closely monitored since Bains’s departure. “We have been under extensive scrutiny, both by Ofsted [and] by the local authority . . . where we are now is the school is stabilised, the school is functioning and has been named as being one of the top 100 [most improved] schools in the UK.”

Birmingham city council said: “We are investigating allegations in relation to some schools in the Birmingham area and have passed any relevant information to West Midlands police to investigate.”

West Midlands police said: “The matter is being dealt with by Birmingham city council and they’re keeping us informed.”