A head teacher has claimed that he warned Britain’s Department for Education (DfE) four years ago about the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot by Islamists to take over schools.
Tim Boyes said he told the department in 2010 about a ‘bloodless coup’ at one school, with governors holding a ‘disproportionate impact’ wanting to replace a sitting head teacher with a Muslim. He spoke of ‘an alliance to destabilise the head’ at another school.
BBC News reports that Mr Boyes also spoke of ‘highly organised’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘intimidating’ governors at another school who the head teacher there believed were part of a ‘co-ordinated group’ trying to take control of the school’s collective worship policy.
The warnings were made three years before a letter alleging the ‘Trojan Horse’ plot was sent to the local council, alleging an Islamist conspiracy to impose hard line teachings on secular schools in Birmingham.
Mr Boyes, head teacher at Queensbridge School, said he gave a presentation to the DfE about the threat. He told the BBC: “Back in 2010, I had a whole series of colleagues, other head teachers, who were reporting concerns about governance and things that weren’t going well in their schools.
“Over 20 years… tensions and politics have exploded and as a result head teachers have had nervous breakdowns, they’ve lost their jobs, schools have been really torn apart.”
Slides from his presentation describe “staff and governors in an alliance to destabilise the head”, while governors at another wanted to removed their head teacher: “Two governors with disproportionate impact… want to remove the head to have a Muslim head… [they are] working to undermine him. A known explicit intention the head lives with.”
The DfE has issued a statement saying the presentation was part of a “general policy discussion”.
The statement says: “There is absolutely no place for extremism in schools and this government has taken a number of significant steps to combat it.
“This meeting took place at the same time as the department was enhancing our due diligence and counter-extremism capability to make schools more aware of risks and to protect children.
“Since 2010 we have taken a number of steps to strengthen our capability to deal with extremism in schools, including setting up a dedicated counter-extremism unit within the Department for Education.
“We have also worked with Ofsted to strengthen inspectors’ capacity to identify and report on extremism in schools.”
Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt, however, accused ministers of “gross negligence”.
“Michael Gove refused to listen to the warnings about radical hardliners taking control of schools. His department has sat on these warnings for four years,” he said.
“Michael Gove’s complacency has given rise to a constant stream of failings in our school system. Failings in the running of schools are not being spotted until it’s too late.”