School may appeal on funding

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The Independent Online
ISLAMIA School in Brent, north-west London, is considering taking its case to the European Court of Human Rights, after the Government's refusal to grant it voluntary-aided status.

Yusuf Islam (formerly the pop singer Cat Stevens), who founded the Muslim primary school 10 years ago, warned parents that the present fees of pounds 1,100 a year may have to treble in order to keep the school running. The 180-pupil school has a waiting list of more than 1,000.

'This is the grossest of injustices. The Government, by making this decision, has reversed its priorities: it is supporting unsuccessful schools and denying support for successful ones like Islamia . . . It seems as if we have no choice other than to take this matter to the highest legal authority,' Mr Islam said.

Islamia's application for grant-aided status, whereby Brent council would pay its running costs and 85 per cent of its capital spending, was rejected by Baroness Blatch, the Minister of State for Education, on the grounds that there were more than 1,500 surplus places within two miles of the school. But in a letter to the governors, the Department of Education said it had no objection in principle to funding a Muslim school.

More than 4,000 Anglican, Catholic and Jewish schools are funded by the Government. To gain voluntary-aided status they must all be able to demonstrate that there are not surplus places at nearby schools.

Leading article, page 19

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