Operation ‘Trojan Horse’
A leaked document last month claimed an alleged plot to oust twelve Birmingham head teachers to make their schools more suitable to accommodate Islamic principles.
At the centre of the controversy was Tahir Alam, the chair of Governors for Park view High School, blamed for instigating ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ which claimed a ‘Muslim take over’ of Schools as far as Bradford.
The document, 'Operation Trojan Horse', whose author is unknown and whose claims are unattested allegedly argued that schools were “corrupting children with sex education, teaching about homosexuals, making their (Muslim) children say Christian prayers and mixed swimming and sports."
The story hit headlines in national newspapers leading Birmingham Council and even Education Secretary Michael Gove to call for further inquiry and investigations into the allegations.
Tahir Alam was shocked to hear about the claims and believes that he is been the victim of a malicious attack.
“The document is the basis of the many sensationalised and Islamophobic articles in the media which seek to defame and vilify respectable individuals and institutions. Any reference to me is a malicious fabrication and completely untrue" Said Tahir Alam.
Park view High School was one of twelve schools to be investigated, all of whom pre-dominantly have a high percentage of Muslim student intake.
The school gained ‘outstanding’ in its Ofsted review last year for its high standards and huge turn around in achievements over the years. In 2013 75% of pupils gained 5 A*-C grades at GCSE including English and Math’s.
Tahir Alam questioned then why someone would advocate a ‘takeover’ when the school is doing perfectly well?
“This is an absurd idea. These schools are graded as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. It is preposterous to suggest that Park View is somehow seeking to ‘take over these schools via the Academies programme"
The allegations were further fuelled by a former teacher, who was dismissed in 2003 from Park View School.
Michael White said its board of governors was "taken over by a Muslim sect" in 1993 and that he was "forced out" after he challenged governors' attempts to ban sex education and stop the teaching of non-Islamic faiths in religious education classes.
Dave Hughes, a Park View Trustee and Governor at Park View School for over 15 years challenged these allegations.
“Unfortunately some of those former staff members who are now sharing fictitious allegations with the media are the very same staff whose performance and expectations of pupils proved that they weren’t along for the journey”.
Over 48% of Birmingham School students come from Ethnic minority backgrounds, 38% of which are Muslim by faith. Despite a large majority only 10% of the 100 schools run in Birmingham have head teachers who are Muslim.
Tahir Alam has been surprised by the heavy handedness shown in the Inspections carried out in schools, citing it as unprecedented on how such action can be taken on the grounds of an un-verified report.
“I have worked voluntarily as a school governor since 1997 for nothing other than the improvement of children’s education"
Trustee and Governor Dave Hughes of Park View School said
“When I started as a governor there was no Halal food served, no arrangements for student prayer, for those who wanted it and girls who wanted to wear headscarves were not allowed to. All these things are now in place.”
“In all my time as a Governor we have not received a single complaint about ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalism’. If we had we would have investigated it openly and thoroughly”.
The investigation continues.