The devil is not in the detail: representational absence and stereotyping in the ‘Trojan Horse’ news story

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle



Using content analysis, this study investigated the coverage of the Trojan Horse news story aiming to ascertain whether its representation by the British press emphasized ‘Islamist extremism’ over ‘poor school governance’. The sample coverage was extracted from five national newspapers and ranged from 9 June (the date of release of the Ofsted Advice Note) to 26 June 2014. Our analysis shows that the coverage reported evidence of Islamist ideology much more frequently (61.5%) than evidence of poor governance (38.5%). This suggests that the Trojan Horse news story was predominantly represented as a case of Islamist extremism and therefore covered in an unbalanced manner. Such a partial coverage relied on ideological dualisms and negative stereotypes to represent Islam and Muslims, and on the textual strategy of selecting some features (extremism) whilst omitting others (governors’ professional misconduct). This bias has arguably diverted attention away from systemic problems within the national school system whilst reinforcing Islamophobic discourses.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15–29
Number of pages15
JournalRace Ethnicity and Education
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • Trojan Horse, news, content analysis, representation, governance, Islamophobia