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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 14:58 GMT
Multi-faith school proposals
Faith schools
Faith schools are set to increase
A multi-faith school could be set up which would serve pupils from a number of different religious groups together.

This school would offer a religious identity, but would be attended by Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and different Christian denominations.

A charitable trust is discussing the creation of such a multi-faith state school in London - which it is believed would become the first of its kind in the United Kingdom.

State-funded schools are already run for pupils from these religious groups - but they are single-faith schools, affiliated to a specific religion.

The government wants to allow the creation of more faith schools, where there is parental demand, arguing that they have a distinctive ethos which contributes to improving academic achievement.

Divisive

In this year's secondary school league tables, a Christian school was the highest performing state school.

And faith schools were disproportionately represented in the list of this year's most outstanding schools, as identified by inspectors.

But there have been claims that single-faith schools can encourage social divisiveness, particularly in areas where there are already social and racial tensions.

Earlier this year the government resisted a backbench revolt from MPs challenging the increasing role of faith schools.

Among the religious leaders believed to be involved in the multi-faith scheme are rabbis Jonathan Wittenberg and Julia Neuberger; the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Richard Harries and Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Imams and Mosques Council of the UK.

"The vision is of a multi-faith school in which faith is taken seriously, so that each child will learn something serious about their own religion but will be taught in a school environment with pupils of other religions," said Dr Harries.

See also:

07 Feb 02 | Education
Faith school rebels defeated
12 Feb 01 | Education
Religious schools to increase
30 Nov 99 | Education
First state-funded Sikh school opens
07 Oct 00 | Education
Go-ahead for Muslim girls' school
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