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The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal: "It is hoped this school will help the children retain the principles and faith of their community"
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Tuesday, 30 November, 1999, 13:51 GMT
First state-funded Sikh school opens
pupils Pupils peform traditional music at the official opening

Britain's first state-funded Sikh school was officially opened by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, on Tuesday.

The Guru Nanak Sikh School in Hayes, Middlesex, was granted state funding earlier this year following a two-year campaign by local Sikh parents, who felt their children's religious and cultural needs were not being served by other schools in the area.

It originally opened in 1993 as an independent school for boys and girls between the ages of four and 18.

The 450-pupil school published proposals last year to become state-funded. The application was accepted by the authorities in June, and the school was granted voluntary-aided status.

The school says it lays considerable emphasis on religious worship.

Rajinder Singh Sandhu Rajinder Singh Sandhu: "We are preparing them to be good citizens"
Boys wear the Sikh turban and the uniform for the girls is the traditional shalwar kameez.

Pupils are taught Punjabi and are made aware of the principles of Sikhism, but the school still follows the national curriculum.

A number of other publicly funded schools already operate in Britain for members of minority faiths, such as Islam.

Head teacher Rajinder Singh Sandhu said: "The Sikh religion teaches children to be humble, rather than egocentric. It teaches them to care for the poor, the underprivileged, to defend all faiths and also to work hard, honestly and use their wealth for good causes.

In a sense we are preparing them to be good citizens in a multi-cultural society."

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See also:
15 Jun 99 |  Education
School prayers off the timetable
01 Jul 99 |  England
Religious schools
02 Jul 99 |  Education
Churches say schools lack spiritual dimension
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