Page last updated at 18:44 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Islamic school 'favours Sunnis'

Writing at desk
The adjudicator says the admissions rules have been breached

An Islamic state school in Britain has been told it is breaking the law by favouring Sunni pupils over Shia ones in giving out places.

England's schools adjudicator says the Madani High School in Leicester was set up in the state sector as a school for all Muslims.

But she says the school's admissions system favours four schools of Islamic law which belong to the Sunni sect.

The school transferred to the state system in 2007.

In her report on the school, schools adjudicator Dr Elizabeth Passmore wrote: "It seems to me to be clear that the school was expected to be a Muslim faith school, equally accessible to all Muslims and not one giving priority to a particular group of Muslims."

The expectation that the school would be accessible to all Muslims may have contributed to the strong support it received, she added.

"The documents I have seen all refer to a Muslim faith school and therefore priority for a place can be given to Muslims and not limited to members of a particular Muslim sect."

Sex discrimination

She also said the school's policy of admitting a fixed proportion of places to boys and girls might breach the Sex Discrimination Act, which prevents pupils from being disadvantaged because of their sex.

Dr Passmore said: "[The school] must allocate places without regard to the gender of the applicant as it is a mixed school."

The school was also found to have failed to honour its stated intention of making 10% of places available to non-Muslim pupils.

Leicester City Council has said it will help the school, which fell foul of the schools adjudicator in October 2008 for giving preference in its admissions policy to children from a private primary school.

The school's mission statement says that it wants to help "learners to become confident in their identity as British Muslims".

The adjudicator made her ruling after complaints were made by other members of the Muslim community.

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