Operation Trojan Horse: What isn’t being said



“We have had a climate of demonising Muslims for some time now, but this has really escalated that by raising the idea of a potential threat existing among children,” Arzu Merali, the head of research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission, told Al Jazeera.

Over the past three months the pupils and parents of Alum Rock, the tight-knit, overwhelmingly Muslim community we serve, have become unwitting players in a vast game of academies, anti-extremism policy, Whitehall leaks and faith schools. Not a thought for our year-11s sitting crucial exams, or their parents. But then, these people are Muslims, and Islamophobia the last acceptable prejudice.

21 primary, secondary, council run and academy schools in the West Midlands were inspected by the government’s official inspectorate body, Ofsted. Five have been placed in special measures. 12 have been handed notices of improvement and three have been cleared.


Numerous sensationalised leaks have reinforced the perception of a pre-set agenda. It is beyond belief that schools which were judged less than a year ago to be “outstanding” are now widely reported as “inadequate”, despite having the same curriculum, the same students, the same leadership team and the same governing body.

As a result, when Ofsted publishes its final report the school is all but certain to be downgraded to “inadequate” – Ofsted’s harshest rating – and be placed in special measures, stripped of its governors and managing trust, and handed over to new, approved management


A so-called ‘Islamist’ school plot, government leaks, off-the-record briefings, a media scramble and a government-ordered investigation of 25 schools has gripped the U.K.’s second city Birmingham in the last month.

How many Muslims do you need for a plot? Two? Three? Or more? What constitutes a plot? There is a very sinister Islamophobic narrative taking place here, one that, for all intents and purposes, accuses an entire minority community of surreptitiously plotting away to infiltrate the country’s institutions and changing its very values, or so we are led to believe.

Appointing Peter Clarke, the former Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Anti-Terrorism Unit, as the Commissioner to investigate this, only confirms the view that this whole sorry mess is not about the education (actually we should just say schooling) of Muslim children but their de-radicalisation and the Dep’t of Education would not be able to get away with the wholesale labeling of children and young people as radicalized with any community other than Muslim communities.

Where there are majority Muslim/black staff in leadership positions, the insinuation is that it must be due to some kind of unethical behaviour, favouritism, unfair advantage due to political correct equal opportunities or, in the case of Park View, implied secret Muslim expansionism. Reverse the skin colour and it is simply meritocracy in action.

“A lot of girls were asked ‘Are you forced to wear the head scarf?’” the source said. “They asked one male pupil, ‘Are girls here forced to wear headscarves?’ and his answer was ‘Well there are three girls sat in the room that aren’t wearing them. So what do you think?’”

“There’s a chance we may be sidelined due to what’s come up in the news. People may say, oh they are from Park View, they’ve been part of the whole Trojan horse scandal, so let’s not give them a place in a sixth form or university later on. That could be a possibility,” Sajad said. 

“Political language…,” wrote Orwell in Politics and the English Language, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Remember this when you read about the “Trojan Horse plot” and Ofsted reports which turn “outstanding” schools into “inadequate” institutions in the space of a few months; they are part of a much bigger scenario.

What happens in a secular schooling system when, free from ‘the shackles’ of elected local government, parents exercise the choice the state gives them and their school chooses to reflect its community’s aspirations in the way it caters for the “spiritual, moral, social and cultural development” of children? What happens when the community that school serves is predominantly Muslim, even though the school is not a faith-based school?

The claims that have bounced around include allegations of segregated classes, compulsory prayers and incendiary preachers at school assemblies – but most have crumbled under examination. So the focus for investigation has slipped from extremism to “an awareness of the risks associated with extremism” in the elided phrase now used by Ofsted inspectors to condemn the schools most heavily involved, such as Park View academy.

I think, readers, that you may be familiar with the concept of a forged document being used to promote a conspiracy theory about a demonised minority, the better to incite moral panic against them.

There is a host of questions for Ofsted. What did the commissioning letter from Gove ask? Who were the inspection team and what was their experience and knowledge of the issues? Were they accompanied by HMI national experts? What was their common guiding brief and how did it define signs of “extremism” and “radicalisation”? 

More than 60 teachers in Newham have signed an open letter to Michael Gove, saying the Trojan Horse affair has increased Islamophobia in the borough.

…And what you’ve probably seen everywhere else already: