In Birmingham, 25 schools are now being investigated by four separate enquiries after accusations that the have been “taken over” and “infiltrated” by “Muslim extremists”. The strategy was revealed in a letter between sent from Birmingham to Bradford, and forwarded to Birmingham City Council last year: "We have caused a great amount of organised disruption in Birmingham and as a result we now have our own academies and are on our way to getting rid of more headteachers and taking over their schools." It is not known whether the letter is genuine – others have suggested it’s a deliberately provocative hoax. Either way, it has prompted some 200 other complaints from parents and some teachers.
[...] It has not yet been established whether or not the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter which prompted early concerns is genuine, or a provocative hoax. But if I were to lay a small bet on the matter, I would put it on a relatively small number of genuine cases of manipulation by Salafi groups, mixed with quite a lot of wider Muslim communities looking in legitimate ways for schooling that reflects their values, which prompts the beleaguered and marginalised minority white community to feel like they’re being robbed of the opportunity to have their children educated in a way that’s meaningful for them. It’s neither simple nor pretty, it’s just where we are. To use a sporting metaphor, these are the kind of balls that will pop out of the ruck of the heritage of naïve immigration policies, rapid demographic change and the growth in the number of academy schools.
One final point with which to conclude. None of the 25 schools being investigated are faith schools. Contrary to the vexatious claims of the National Secular Society, the issue has absolutely nothing to do with the state funding of religious schools. There may be problems and controversies around faith schools, but these events in Birmingham are not an instance of them. There may even be problems with faith schools in east Birmingham (I think there’s anecdotal evidence that white parents may favour Christian schools, for obvious reasons given the above), but Muslim communities, if they have sought to influence community schools or academies, will not have been caused to do so by the presence of schools with a religious foundation. If it’s been done, it would have been done anyway.
I make no claim to know the right policy response, but I think I could pick a few wrong ones. The most superficial thing that can be said about the business – remembering, of course, that we the general public are not yet in possession of anything like the full facts – is to use it as an argument against faith schools. As arguments go, its plain lazy.