The Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair
Lecturer: Prof John Holmwood, University of Nottingham
12 Oct 2020
In early 2014, the media was full of stories of a ‘plot to Islamicise schools’ in Birmingham, Bradford and Oldham. Various official investigations claimed to find evidence of extremism, but when misconduct cases were brought against teachers in September 2015, the only charges were ‘undue religious influence’.
The cases collapsed in May 2017 because of ‘impropriety’ on the part of lawyers acting for the government. Nonetheless, the affair led to important changes in policy – a new emphasis within Prevent on safeguarding children from non-violent extremism, and a requirement on schools to teach ‘fundamental British values’. Most recently, the latter has spilled over into arguments that ‘British values’ be taught using the Equality Act 2010 and its protected characteristics.
This session will address the background to the affair in Government attacks on multiculturalism, the ‘authoritarian’ governance of schools under the academies programme, as well as secular liberal criticisms of the role of religion in schools.
John Holmwood was an expert witness for the defence in the professional misconduct case brought against senior teachers at Park View Education Trust.
- John Holmwood and Therese O’Toole (2018) Countering Extremism in British Schools: The Truth about the Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair, Policy Press. Free access to the Introduction here.
- John Holmwood (14 July 2020) ‘A Postcolonial Conservative Defence of Multicultural Equality’, Reset Dialogues on Civilizations.
- Fahid Qurashi (2018) ‘The Prevent strategy and the UK “war on terror”: embedding infrastructures of surveillance in Muslim communities. Palgrave Communications 4, 17
- Sara Cannizzaro and Reza Gholami (2018) ‘The devil is not in the detail: representational absence and stereotyping in the “Trojan Horse” news story’, Race Ethnicity and Education, 21:1, 15-29. Authors’ preprint available here:
- Clayton, Matthew, Andrew Mason, Adam Swift, and Ruth Wareham. 2018. ‘How to Regulate Faith Schools’ Impact (25): 1–49.
- Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain (2018) The Parekh Report: The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, Runneymede Trust.
Many of the media stories are behind paywalls, but see:
- A comprehensive resource page on the Trojan Horse affair is available here.
- Andrew Gilligan (June 15 2014) ‘Trojan Horse: how we revealed the truth behind the plot’ The Telegraph.
- Chris Cook (28 April 2014 ‘Inside the Trojan Horse’ Chris Cook BBC Newsnight
- Key speeches by prime minister, David Cameron:
- David Cameron (5 February 2011) ‘PM’s Speech at the Munich Security Conference’
- David Cameron (14 February 2011) ‘PM’s Speech on Big Society’
Questions for Discussion
- Do liberal citizenship and multiculturalism conflict?
- Is there a problem of democratic governance in schools in England?
- Should schools be secular spaces?