Trojan Horse plot: drive to increase Muslim leaders 'to raise performance'

A teacher working for one of the Birmingham schools inspected as part of an investigation into alleged infiltration by Muslim fundamentalists has said there was a campaign to have more Muslim teachers and governors, but insisted that it was aimed at raising attainment levels of Muslim pupils after years of underperformance.

The teacher told Channel 4 News that it was a "very positive thing to have better representation, proportional representation" among teaching staff and school leadership teams.

"These teachers, these governors, will have a deeper understanding of what the needs are of children in these schools," said the teacher, who was not named.

He described allegations that Islamic fundamentalists from the Wahabi or Salafi sect had too much influence as "ludicrous", insisting that he would be regarded as a much more moderate Sufi Muslim.

"The reason I came into education was to address extremism, to get rid of it," said the teacher, who also rejected allegations that male and female pupils had been segregated.

However, his comments were treated with scepticism by Labour's Birmingham Perry Barr MP, Khalid Mahmood, who said the teacher's comments were not in line with the evidence he had seen.

Mahmood said he had come across headteachers who had suffered intimidation at the hands of others, adding that Birmingham city council had received more than 200 letters detailing complaints.

"In some cases, Muslim teachers were forced out because they did not fit in with the ideas of others," he said.

Birmingham city council last week published a list of 18 schools which Ofsted told the local authority it had inspected at the request of the education secretary, Michael Gove, as a result of the so-called "Operation Trojan Horse" plot to seize control of governing bodies.

The council said the separate investigations by the local authority, the Department for Education and Ofsted were continuing and all of the final inspection reports had yet to be published.

Earlier this month, one of Britain's most senior police chiefs criticised Gove's decision to appoint a counter-terrorism expert to investigate claims of the Islamist plot.

Chris Sims, chief constable of West Midlands police, condemned as "desperately unfortunate" the appointment of Peter Clarke to look into allegations of Islamic fundamentalists infiltrating schools.

Clarke, who served as head of the Metropolitan police's counter-terrorism unit and led the investigation into the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, was asked to examine claims made in an unsigned and unverified document, circulated in Birmingham and beyond, boasting of an plot named Operation Trojan Horse.

The alleged plotters claimed to have "taken over" secular state schools in Birmingham, ousting non-compliant heads and governors, and running the schools on "strict Islamic principles".