Muslims seek state funding for schools
Baroness Blatch, Minister of State for Education, is due to receive a delegation from the Muslim Education Forum which will include Baroness Cox, a Conservative peer, and John Marks, a traditionalist recently appointed to the School Examinations and Assessment Council.
They want schools to be directed to take a series of measures to meet the concerns of Muslim parents: to set aside facilities for religious education for Muslims and others between 4pm and 5pm, including teaching by local religious leaders; areas for prayer mats to be used during free time; and concessions to Muslim sensibilities over dress and school uniforms.
A decision by John Patten, Secretary of State for Education, on whether to allow the Islamia primary school in north London to become a state-aided voluntary school is keenly awaited. For many Muslims, the school is a symbol. 'Islamia will make or break it,' Shabbir Akhtar, of the Muslim Education Forum, said yesterday. 'Are choice and diversity only for white children?'
Although the vast majority of Britain's estimated 300,000 Muslim children will continue to attend local authority schools whatever Mr Patten's decision, the repeated refusal of ministers to allow Islamic schools funded on the same basis as Church of England, Catholic or Jewish voluntary- aided schools has upset Muslims.
In May, a High Court judge directed Mr Patten to reconsider the Government's refusal in 1990 of the application from Islamia on the grounds that there were surplus places in the borough of Brent.
Mr Justice Macpherson, who described Islamia as a 'splendid and remarkable' school, said there had been manifest unfairness in its treatment. The school's backers have challenged the basis of the department's surplus places calculations and have pointed out that many pupils come from boroughs where there is a shortage.
Ministers have subsequently permitted a Catholic school in Birmingham to expand despite the existence of surplus places in the area, thus undermining the argument against Islamia.
The Government's figures on surplus places in schools come under further attack today from the Association of Metropolitan Authorities. It says the target figure of 1.5 million surplus places in England and Wales is 'wildly overestimated' and that a better system of calculating classroom capacity needs to be devised.
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis's funniest (and most memorable) quotes
- 5 Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Greece debt crisis explained: A history of just how the country landed itself in such a mess
German conservatives are destroying Europe with austerity, says economist Thomas Piketty
Man dies instantly after shooting firework from top of his head
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for individual...
£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...
£40000 - £95000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...