Muslims seek state funding for schools

MUSLIM education campaigners, backed by right-wing Conservatives, will this week press the Government to fund Islamic schools and strengthen the rights of minority faiths in state 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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future