Experienced headteachers say they recognise ploy outlined in document about alleged Islamic plot to ‘take over’ schools
The Operation Trojan Horse plot may well be a hoax, invented by nefarious schemers for their own personal gain. But experienced headteachers in Birmingham say they recognised the tactics outlined in the document as having been used by Islamic hardliners to try to gain influence in the city’s schools for over a decade.
Sir Dexter Hutt, a headteacher in Birmingham who retired three years ago after 40 years teaching in the city, said: “I have no idea if it is a forgery or not, but from my experience, I am not surprised by the gist of it.”
Christine Quinn, currently executive head of Ninestiles secondary, an academy deemed “outstanding” by Ofsted, said many of the strategies outlined in the document “echo what people have been saying for many years”.
Quinn and Hutt say they had a series of “battles” with ultra-conservative Muslims when they were sent by the local authority in 2002 to raise standards at Waverley, then a failing school in Small Heath, a predominantly Muslim area of the city.
Hutt, who was Waverley’s executive head for three-and-a-half years, on Thursday said he had to contend with criticism by people from “the ultra-conservative Wahabi sect” who “appeared to operate as a cohesive faction”.
Hutt said he believed there were other schools in Birmingham that had experienced similar issues in the past nine years. Quinn said she knew of two schools where the heads had left after coming under similar pressure.
In 2008, most of the 1,350 pupils at Moseley school in south central Birmingham signed a petition demanding that the headteacher, Dave Peck, be reinstated, claiming he had been “forced out”. In 2002, inspectors at Washwood Heath Technology College in the city warned that a climate of intimidation caused by some governors had affected standards and allegedly led to the resignation of the headteacher. Friends of Balwant Bains, a Sikh man who quit as head of Saltley school in November last year, have claimed he was “bullied and intimidated” by the school’s governing body after some Muslim governors wanted to ban sex education and citizenship classes because they were “unIslamic”.
It is thought the ousted heads signed confidentiality clauses banning them from discussing their experiences.
Quinn said some of the demands made were entirely reasonable, and based on the premise that Pakistani Muslim children had previously been very poorly served by the city’s schools until the new millennium.
Hutt and Quinn moved on from Waverley when their contract ended and they returned to their own school, Ninestiles.
“But,” said Hutt, ” the issue is not really about academic results. It’s more about ensuring that the educational culture in which the students are educated does not degenerate into a kind of indoctrination. I don’t think that is in the best interests of Muslim students, or other students in our multicultural society.”