A head teacher who ran a school that was investigated by the ‘Trojan Horse’ inquiry has said that he was forced out for “giving children British values”.
Balwant Bains, who is Sikh, said he had to leave Saltley School in Birmingham due to a campaign of “emotional harassment” by Muslim governors. He had opposed plans by Muslim parents to scrap sex education lessons and use only Halal meat in school catering.
Mr Bains was also accused of racism and Islamophobia over his refusal to give in to the parents’ demands, and was even criticised when he tried to discipline a Muslim student who had threatened others with a knife.
He told the New York Times: “I suppose I was a threat, giving these children more British values, for them to be integrated into society.
“It made me value education more, and because it is free in this country. I lifted myself out of poverty because of education. If I could do it, if I could break the cycle, other children could, too.”
The ‘Trojan Horse’ controversy was stoked after an anonymous letter came to light alleging an organised radical Islamist takeover of state schools in predominantly Muslim areas. A subsequent investigation by school inspectors Ofsted found that in some schools strict Muslim parents were trying to change the values of the nominally secular institutions.
Five schools in Birmingham, including the one at which Mr Bains taught, were found to share a pattern of behaviour similar to that in the letter. The letter even mentioned his impending resignation, saying: “The Sikh head running a Muslim school will soon be sacked and we will move in.” His resignation was not public knowledge when the letter was written.
Mr Bains had been head of Saltley since 2012, when its grades were falling below the national average. After just a year in charge, however, the school achieved its best results ever, with inspectors judging it to be one of the most improved schools in the country that year.
However, the school’s governing board was not happy. “I never got a single congratulation,” Mr Bains said. Instead, the board chairman took to criticising his actions and even forced him to write a report justifying decisions such as why students had to walk on the right-hand side of the corridor and not the left, why he made changes to the school website, and what he said in school assemblies. His report ran to 300 pages.
In another incident, when a Muslim boy threatened classmates with a knife, Mr Bains expelled him. However, when he refused to expel a white boy who had surrendered the weapon, he was accused of being racist and Islamophobic. A Facebook campaign was soon started against him, and a leaflet was even circulated at a local mosque.
“Some of the children would come in and tell me, ‘Mr. Bains, they’re going to egg your car today, so you better move your car.’ I felt very isolated, I was despondent. I was a head teacher going into work without any power.”
Mr Bains said that the treatment started just two months after he started at the school, and continued until he resigned. He was replaced, he claims, by a friend of the chairman of the board of governors. By then, all but one of the non-Muslim governors had left.
A friend said: “The governors demanded that the head get rid of sex education and citizenship classes because they were un-Islamic.
“He was also told to introduce Islamic studies into the curriculum and Halal food, even though Saltley is a non-faith school. He said no, and that is when things began to go wrong for him.”