A previously good school, Small Heath in Birmingham, has seen standards plummet after a new head teacher (principal), backed by a cadre of Islamists implicated in the “Trojan Horse” scandal, took over in September, implementing a series of aggressively Islamizing changes.
The ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal followed revelations that a cadre of Islamists had taken over a series of state run schools in Birmingham, driven out secular and non-Muslim teachers and implemented changes to inculcate the largely Muslim student body with an extremist interpretation of Islam.
The revelations launched a wide ranging probe of several schools in Birmingham.
A government report, detailing the findings of the various investigations and conducted by Peter Clarke, the former head of the London Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorism Command, was released in July last year.
The damning report concluded that: “There has been co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action, carried out by a number of associated individuals, to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamic ethos into a few schools in Birmingham.”
Small Heath School, rated as “outstanding” by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) under its previous secular head Peter Slough. Since head teacher Shahnaz Khan took over in September, several leading members of staff have been forced out.
The school is now rated “inadequate,” the lowest possible rating, in an inspection report to be released next week.
Prior to her appointment at Small Heath, Mrs. Khan was deputy head at Cathay’s High School in Cardiff. Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana, two British jihadists now fighting in Syria for the Islamic State, attended the school and were reportedly radicalized at a nearby mosque.
Members of the "Trojan Horse plot" used a private WhatsApp discussion group, a popular mobile messaging application, to post gleeful messages about Mrs Khan’s appointment. The messages were leaked to The Telegraph when they were posted last March.
Razwan Faraz, a leading member of the WhatsApp group called "Educational Activists" and a teacher who has since been suspended, praised Mrs. Khan and expressed his view that she should proceed cautiously with the takeover. He said that she was “a very astute lady. She knows her game, God willing. Please don’t pressurize her to start the Islamizing agenda first, that will be a lot easier when she is respected as a leader.”
Samir Rauf, a governor at Small Heath, concurred, saying, “My exact words to her, Razwan. However, at macro governor level, the ball needs to start rolling.”
Faraz was previously deputy head teacher at Nansen Primary school and was suspended last year after the school was placed in "special measures" following the Trojan Horse revelations.
Rauf was previously a teacher at Birmingham's Oldknow Academy, a school which was the target of a takeover bid revealed last year and which was placed in "special measures" as a result.
At least four senior members of staff have resigned from the school in recent weeks. One of those who resigned, the assistant head teacher and head of sixth form (11th and 12th grade) Tim Smith, sent a letter to the head of the board of governors Jamshed Khan (no relation to the head teacher Mrs. Khan). He said that he felt “angry and let down by the governing body.”
Another member of staff who had resigned told The Telegraph, “Ofsted received information from a former inspector, David Driscoll, who has been helping the school. What he saw and heard horrified him. Staff were very unhappy, standards were slipping, and members of staff who had served the school fantastically well for years were being ripped into at every opportunity.”
The Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt lashed out at the government’s failure to act on this issue despite prior warnings. Speaking in the House of Commons he said “Meetings were not followed up. Warnings were ignored.
“Only when the so-called Trojan Horse affair hit the newspapers did government ministers think it would be a good idea to act to safeguard the children of Birmingham… for four years they did nothing at all.”
Yet it seems warnings have been ignored for far longer and despite several changes of administration.
An inquiry by the Permanent Secretary to the Department of Education Chris Wormald found that the government had access to information about Islamist infiltration in Birmingham’s school system as long ago as 1994 but chose not to act.
The inquiry found that the government was alerted by teachers, governors, church leaders and a member of the House of Lords variously in 1994, 2008, 2010 and 2013, but that the government did not act on the information until the scandal made national news in March last year.
Meanwhile, Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector for schools has warned that those schools named in the Trojan Horse affair are struggling to recruit staff and unless the situation changes the problems could resurface.
Speaking to the Commons Education Committee, Sir Michael told MPs that, “We can't get enough good leadership and teaching staff in those schools,” adding that unless good staff are recruited “those people who have gone to ground, who want to exploit the situation, will do so.”
The Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said there would now be a much larger role for counter-extremism in the department.