Officials were warned about hardline Muslims allegedly trying to take over a Birmingham school in a ‘Trojan Horse’-style plot in 2008
Whistleblower says he went to authorities about issue six years ago
He told council that headteacher’s life was being made a nightmare
Radical governors were ‘demanding prayer breaks and religious assemblies’
Latest claims that local education bosses knew of problem years ago
Around 20 schools are currently being investigated by Ofsted and police
By RICHARD SPILLETT
2 June 2014
Education chiefs were warned about an alleged bid by Muslim hardliners to take over a Birmingham school six years ago, it was claimed today.
Police, the Government and school inspectors Ofsted are investigating alleged attempts by radicals to seize control of schools in the city after claims of a ‘Trojan Horse’ plot emerged earlier this year.
In the latest claims that city education bosses ignored the problem, whistleblower Keith Townsend has revealed he went to officials about the issue in 2008.
Mr Townsend, a prospective school governor, said he told Birmingham City Council that a small group were putting the headteacher under huge pressure.
He said at least three of the governors demanded religious assemblies and regular time out of class for worship as the non-Muslim headteacher’s life was turned into a nightmare.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The governing body was largely Muslim and most of the governors had been in place for several years. They were intelligent, they were active within the school and they were working alongside the head and the leadership team in a normal manner.
THE TROJAN HORSE PLOT – BATTLE FOR THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS
A letter detailing the plan known as ‘Operation Trojan Horse’ emerged in March, claiming responsibility for leadership changes at four schools; Adderley Primary, Saltley School, Park View School and Regents Park Community Primary School.
Around 20 schools in Birmingham have since faced allegations that Muslims in senior positions have segregated boys and girls in classrooms, refused to teach sex education and have forced some female students to wear head scarfs.
As a result, six schools are understood to have been placed in special measures after they received damning reports into how they are run.
It was reported yesterday that Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw will claim children are being denied a ’rounded education’ when the schools’ inspection reports are published later this week.
The National Association of Head Teachers has said it has ‘serious concerns’ about attempts to ‘alter the character’ of schools – warning the ‘plot’ was spreading across the country.
‘Then two or three new governors were appointed and things started to change.
‘Many demands were made that were simply impossible to meet and it began to appear as though there was some sort of organised attempt to undermine the management of the school.’
Mr Townsend said the small group appeared to have been ‘infiltrated’ into the school’s governing body.
He added: ‘The headteacher was put under very considerable pressure to provide endless reams of statistics which became meaningless to the point where it would have been impossible to continue the day-to-day running of the school had he complied with each and every request.
‘I wrote to a senior member of the education department at Birmingham City Council expressing my concerns.
‘I received what I can only describe as a dismissive reply. It was obvious that my concerns, and those of others who I know had contacted the city council, were just being dismissed. They either didn’t believe them or chose not to believe them.’
The claims emerged after Tim Boyes, head of Queensbridge School in the city, revealed he also cautioned the Department for Education (DfE) in 2010 about governors with a ‘disproportionate impact’ wanting to replace one city head with a Muslim.
He described a ‘bloodless coup’ at one Birmingham school and ‘an alliance to destabilise the head’ at another – three years before a letter alleging the plot was sent to the council.
Inquiries into the claims have been launched by several bodies, including West Midlands Police, the Department of Education and Ofsted.
Birmingham City Council have yet to confirm whether it received letters from Mr Townsend, but Labour MP Steve McCabe said he remembers having a conversation with the would-be governor in 2008 and taking the concerns to an assistant director at the city council.