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 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...