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'Trojan horse' reports played down

One of London's poorest boroughs has strongly denied claims that its schools are to be investigated for falling under the influence of Islamist fundamentalists.

Tower Hamlets said there is "no evidence" that the next "Trojan Horse" scandal is to be uncovered in the borough, despite one of its schools being subject to a recent unannounced inspection by Ofsted.

The Sunday Times claimed anonymous officials at the Department for Education were concerned that the situation could be worse than the Birmingham takeover plot, which resulted in an emergency investigation of schools in the city earlier this year.

A subsequent report found "clear evidence" of a group of like-minded individuals working to support "extremist views" in Birmingham classrooms.

A statement from Tower Hamlets said: "Tower Hamlets council has some of the best urban schools in the world due in part to an unrivalled partnership between headteachers, parents, governors, local politicians and the local education authority over a 20-year period.

"For instance, 17 out of 18 secondary schools are rated by Ofsted as good or outstanding.

"The model we have adopted is based on early intervention and where problems have arisen in terms of performance or standards we have acted swiftly to address any concerns."

Regarding the "Trojan Horse" allegations, it said: "We have no evidence of such practices in our maintained schools."

It said Marner Primary School, which was subjected to a "snap check" by Ofsted, was expected to be given the all-clear.

A wave of announced checks have been carried out by inspectors up and down the country in the wake of the Birmingham scandal amid serious concerns about standards.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "If any evidence of extremism is presented to us we will investigate it.

"All schools are subject to a tough inspection regime and we have been clear we will not hesitate to take firm and swift action if pupils are being let down or placed at risk.

"Keeping our children safe, and ensuring our schools prepare them for life in modern Britain, could not be more important."

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