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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
First Hindu state school to open
A father and child at a Hindu festival
The government has opened the way for more faith schools
The first Hindu state school in Britain is set to open next year in west London.

Hindu group the I-Foundation plans to open a new 10m primary school for pupils in Edgware next September.

The local authority's approval for the plans follows the government's pledging of support for more religious schools where there is parental demand.

About a third of schools in England are faith schools - including Jewish, Sikh, Muslim and Christian denominations.

But so far there has not been a Hindu school - which has meant that Hindu parents do not have an option to send their children to a school based on their faith.

FAITH SCHOOLS
6,850 out of a total of 21,000 schools, large majority either Church of England or Roman Catholic
37 Jewish, 7 Muslim, 2 Sikh, 1 Greek Orthodox, 1 Seventh Day Adventist
1.7 million pupils
21% of faith school secondary pupils from ethnic minorities - 17% in non faith schools

On Monday night, the London Borough of Harrow voted in favour of granting planning consent for the 236-place primary school, on Camrose Avenue, Edgware.

The I-Foundation says: "Parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their children losing touch with their culture and religion.

"Many feel the need for educating children not only with academics but also with firm grounding in their spiritual and cultural values.

"The voluntary aided Hindu primary school will be dedicated to developing each child's full potential spiritually, morally and academically.

"Its vision is to deliver a high standard of education within a spiritual atmosphere, preparing students to become individuals of good character, discipline and competence."

The group also wants to build a Hindu school in Leicester.

Parental demand

On Monday, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls pledged his support for the principle of faith schools, saying they could raise standards in poorer areas.

At a conference in London, he presented a joint policy statement with Church of England, Roman Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Greek Orthodox and Sikh representatives.

Mr Balls committed the government to opening more faith schools where was demand from the local community - and the faith groups pledged their support for social cohesion and the principle of fair admissions.

In particular, this could mean an expansion in the number of Muslim schools.

I-Foundation director Nitesh Gor said: "This is an incredibly exciting moment for the UK's Hindu community.

"It is the first time the choice of a faith-based education will be extended to Hindus alongside Christians, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs."

But a teachers' union warned that faith schools could separate communities.




SEE ALSO
Faith schools set for expansion
10 Sep 07 |  Education
Faith schools quota plan scrapped
26 Oct 06 |  Education
First UK Hindu school in London
12 Oct 05 |  London

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