The Birmingham Trojan Horse Affair

British Citizenship, Race, and Rights - Lecture 7

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.



Many of the media stories are behind paywalls, but see:

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do liberal citizenship and multiculturalism conflict?
  2. Is there a problem of democratic governance in schools in England?
  3. Should schools be secular spaces?