Prevent Watch

The Birmingham Trojan Horse affair: A very British injustice

trojan horse affair open democracy john holmwood

Accusations in the Trojan Horse Affair that were levelled against the Park View Academy and its Trust for attempting to “Islamicise schools” fell apart for good reason, yet they continue to do damage, writes John Holmwood for Open Democracy.

In early 2014, the Birmingham Trojan Horse affair hit the headlines as a “plot to Islamicise schools”. This followed the publication of a letter purporting to come from one of those involved in the plot. The letter is widely regarded as a hoax, but its consequences have run on for almost four years.

This has had great significance for public policies associated both with education and the government’s Prevent agenda. For example, a duty on schools “to promote fundamental British values” was adopted in November 2014, and the affair was used the following year as the primary example of ‘extremist entryism’ that would be guarded against by a new Counter Extremism Strategy.

At first, 21 schools were submitted to special Ofsted inspections, with 14 subject to further investigation by Ian Kershaw for Birmingham City Council and by Peter Clarke for the Department for Education covering a time-period of allegations from 1996 to 2014.

In the end, and largely as a consequence of the Clarke Report, professional misconduct cases were brought by the National College of Teaching and Leadership (an independent agency of the Department for Education, responsible for teacher standards) against just 12 teachers, all but one directly associated with Park View Academy and its Trust. These cases collapsed in May of this year as a consequence of serious impropriety by the NCTL.

Since that embarrassment for the government, advisers close to Michael Gove have attempted to have the last word on the Trojan Horse Affair, however we must understand that at its core could well be a great miscarriage of justice.

Read more on Open Democracy.

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