Birmingham council investigates 'Muslim fundamentalist plot to take over local schools'

Hardline Muslims attempted to wrest control of Birmingham schools by pushing them to adopt academy status, writes Paul Gallagher

Details of an extraordinary plot by Islamic fundamentalists to take control of several non-faith schools in Birmingham by "jihad" have come to light sparking a major investigation by police, the city council and the Department for Education.

Documents leaked to the Birmingham Mail describe the campaign, dubbed Operation Trojan, outlining a step-by-step guide on how to infiltrate school staff with hardline Muslim supporters who can push through plans to transfer the schools into academies, meaning they will not be subject to local authority rules and can be run independently - with the ultimate aim of imposing fundamental Islamic values.

Further plots by religious fundamentalists to infiltrate schools are likely to occur if more schools opt out of local council control, Labour’s children’s minister said on Friday. Birmingham Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe said the extraordinary Salafist plot was not the first time that such groups had tried to oust headteachers and replace them with extremist sympathisers.

Mr McCabe told the Independent: “This is not the first time this has happened. The difference here is the suggestion in the paper, and I know no different, that this is some sort of concerted organisation and strategy paper. I know heads that have been suspended or driven out because of the enormous pressure they are put under by certain groups or cliques trying to usurp them.

“If you continue down that road to have more schools opt out (of local council control) then the only checks and balances you have for those schools is Mr Gove. Local Education Authorities have an important role so it is possibly quite timely that this supposed plot has come to light to highlight that.”

The leaked letter, reportedly correspondence from one Birmingham fundamentalist to another in Bradford, outlines how the use of dirty tricks methods such as spreading lies about heads, forcing children to engage in Christian prayer, “teaching about homosexuals” and “corrupting children with sex education” can achieve the fundamentalists’ goals.

The letter advises that Salafi parents and staff – those with hardline Islamic views – should be identified within the community. It says: “They are always the most committed to the faith and are hardliners in that regard and once charged up they keep going for longer. When the parents have been identified, we start to turn them against the head teacher and leadership team.

“If you can get them to be very vocal in the playground as they drop off or pick up their children that will stir up other parents. The parents MUST be given direction and told not to discuss this with anyone. You only need a maximum of four parents to disrupt the whole school, to send in complaints to question their child’s education and to contact their MP and local authority.”

The author also claims: “We have caused a great amount of organised disruption in Birmingham and as a result we now have our own Academies and are on our way to getting rid of more headteachers and taking over their schools. Whilst sometimes the practices we use may not seem the correct way to do things you must remember this is a 'Jihad' and as such all means possible to win the war is acceptable.”

The author also discusses rolling out Operation Trojan to Bradford and Manchester. The Birmingham schools named in the letter are Regents Park Community Primary School, Saltley School and Specialist Science College, Adderley Primary School and Park View Academy.

Secular groups have expressed alarm at the alleged plot. Pavan Dhaliwal, from the British Humanist Association, said: “We are glad that this matter is being investigated and hope that any such behaviour is put a stop to. It is vitally important that no school discriminates against pupils or staff on the basis of faith, but instead that every school is equally welcome to all, regardless of religion or belief.”

One education source disagreed with Mr McCabe and said to suggest Academies are subject to less controls than state schools would be “fundamentally incorrect”. They added: “Only one of the schools named in Birmingham – Park View – is an academy, so it would be wrong to say any policy to increase the number of Academies would make our schools more susceptible to this kind of plot.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said it had received the letters but could not comment because of the ongoing investigation. Chief Supt Alex Murray, Commander of Birmingham East police, said the details of the plot were not a matter for his force. He said: “The City Council has continued to keep us updated on their enquiry in the event that any findings either warrant police investigation or impact on our joint delivery of Prevent across the City.

“However, a separate complaint relating to an allegation of fraud from members of staff at a primary school was made to West Midlands Police in January 2013. This investigation has been re-opened by the Economic Crime Unit as a result of this letter coming to light.”

A DfE spokesman said: “We are aware of the serious allegations made in relation to some local authority schools and an academy in Birmingham, and are in close contact with a number of parties, including the police, the council and teaching unions. Birmingham City Council are investigating all these allegations and we are also looking specifically at the Park View academy.

“All schools are subject to a tough inspection framework and must meet the high standards and requirements rightly expected. We will not hesitate to take firm action if these are not being met – in particular where we become aware of issues of concern in an academy we will move quickly to resolve these. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

The four schools that form Operation Trojan

Park View Academy

This week Ofsted inspectors launched a surprise inspection at Park View where it has previously been reported one staff member has complained non-Muslim employees are being discriminated against. It was also claimed the school was attempting to introduce Islamic studies to the curriculum.

According to the Birmingham Mail Lindsey Clark, Park View’s executive head, reportedly said faith classes were being organised, but for after-school lessons. She said it was a “safeguarding issue” for children allegedly being hit in local madrasahs.

Adderley Primary School

Since the Trojan documents came to light, West Midlands Police has re-opened a fraud investigation at the school. It is understood the investigation centers on allegations of "faked" resignation letters. One member of staff is also taking the school to the Employment Tribunal.

Satley School and Regents Park Community Primary School

Heads at both schools quit in the autumn after concerns over "lack of trust" between leadership and governors at Satley and allegations of cheating in SATs at Regents Park. The Trojan letter, which pre-dates Satley headmaster Balwant Bains’s resignation, says that he would “soon be sacked”. According to the Mail, the much-respected principal resigned last November after a damning Ofsted report criticised his “dysfunctional” relationship with governors.

An alleged plot to oust headteacher Tina Ireland at Regents Park by "planting the seed" of SATs cheating allegations is also detailed in the Trojan documents. The long-serving and respected teacher and her deputy, Michelle McCusker, resigned in October after education chiefs scrapped the primary school’s SATs results following the cheating allegations.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
News
An Apple iPhone 6 stands on display at the Apple Store
businessRegulators give iPhone 6 and 6 Plus the green light
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
music
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Teaching Assistant

£60 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Experienced Teaching Assistants ...

Team Manager with Level 3 Early Years Qualification

£18000 - £19000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Team Leader required ...

International Recruitment Consultant London/Dubai

£22000 - £28000 per annum + uncapped bonus: Randstad Education Group: Teachany...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher needed for No...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style