Islamic extremists ‘target four more schools’

Park View School, Birmingham, UK

Four more state schools in Birmingham have allegedly fallen foul of a campaign to run them in accordance with Islamic traditions, according to a letter leaked to The Sunday Times.

The anonymous note, which was sent to Birmingham city council, identifies four schools — Nansen Primary, Golden Hillock, Ladypool Primary and Oldknow Academy.

Head teachers at the first three schools have left their posts in recent years. Neither they nor the council would comment on the circumstances of their departures.

Photo from the Oldknow Academy website

The document claims some staff at the schools “are too scared to speak out . . . because of repercussions related to their job security”. It also alleges that one head teacher had his “car tyres slashed in the staff car park due to opposition he made to some practices”.

The letter also claims that PE classes at Oldknow Academy are segregated, with girls taught only by female teachers. The school referred inquiries to the council, which declined to comment on the specific allegation.

Although the motivation behind the note is unclear, its claims will deepen concerns about an alleged plan by Muslim hardliners to destabilise and take over state schools in the city.

The alleged campaign was outlined in a document entitled Operation Trojan Horse which was leaked to The Sunday Times after being sent to Birmingham city council.

Photo from the Oldknow Academy website

It was purportedly written by fundamentalists who wanted head teachers forced out of their jobs by Muslim parents and governors if they opposed changes to “sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their children say Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sports”.

While a number of factual inaccuracies in the Trojan Horse document have raised suspicions that it could be a hoax, the new letter says: “Not sure where the Trojan Horse document has originated from, but all contents are true and accurate and have been going on for the last two-three years gradually.”

Several sources last week offered a theory that the Trojan Horse document had in fact been drawn up by people opposed to more Islamic traditions being introduced in the city’s schools. The intention of the fictitious document, they believe, was to force the council to take more seriously what they consider to be legitimate concerns.

Ladypool Junior and Infant School, Birmingham was the first member of the a local recycling project

“We think a number of staff members have written up this so-called plot as a cry for help to get the council’s attention about what really is going on. For years we have been raising concerns similar to those outlined in the documents and no one cared to listen,” said one source.

West Midlands police are investigating the claims in the Trojan Horse document but are understood to have been unable to trace its authors or verify its authenticity.

Two of the schools named in the new document — Golden Hillock and Nansen — have been taken over by the Park View Educational Trust, which also runs Park View School, a flagship secondary school at the heart of the government’s academies programme.

Park View was the subject of a recent snap inspection by Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, after the Department for Education began investigating claims that non-Muslim staff had been discriminated against.

Students at Golden Hillock

In an interview with The Sunday Times last month, Lindsey Clark, Park View’s executive head, previously described as an “inspiration” by Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s chief inspector, denied the trust was subject to any takeover plot.

Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill and shadow minister for higher education, described the alleged plot as “really serious” and said he had received complaints about segregated PE lessons at some schools.

Saeeda Bano, the former head at Nansen, and Matthew Scarrott, the former head at Golden Hillock, refused to comment on the new letter and their departures from their jobs. Elizabeth Manley, the former head at Ladypool, did not respond to requests for comment.

Ghamkol Sharif Mosque, Birmingham

A spokesman for Birmingham city council said: “We have received letters making allegations in relation to some schools in the Birmingham area. Birmingham city council is continuing to investigate these allegations and therefore cannot comment further.”

There are hundreds of privately run Islamic schools in the UK, but few are state-funded. 

More than 50 applications have been made to open Muslim schools under the government’s free schools programme, which allows parents and teachers to apply for funding to set up a new school.