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Saturday, 7 October, 2000, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Go-ahead for Muslim girls' school
Muslim schoolchildren
Government approval depends on certain conditions being met
Education Secretary David Blunkett has signalled support for the opening of Britain's first Muslim state secondary school.

He is set to release more than 5m to fund a switch by Feversham Girls' School in Bradford from the independent sector to voluntary-aided status like that of many church schools.

His move follows a six-year campaign by the Muslim Association of Bradford and two refusals by government departments.

The transfer will involve Feversham expanding to cater for 580 girls, including 160 sixth formers. Facilities will shift to a former Roman Catholic school.

David Blunkett
David Blunkett: "Favourably disposed"
Government approval depends on the purchase of that site and provisions for students with special needs.

Feversham will be the third Muslim independent school to become maintained, but will be the first secondary one.

The others are the Islamia Primary School in Brent, north London - set up by former folk singer Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens - and Al Furquan Primary School in Birmingham.

All schools coming into the maintained sector must comply with the statutory provisions governing maintained schools, including delivery of the National Curriculum.

'Favourably disposed'

Mr Blunkett has written to Feversham's promoters, and to Bradford's Local Education Authority, to say he was "favourably disposed" to a move into the state-maintained sector.

Government scrutiny confirmed that Feversham's 41% pass rate of GCSEs at A-C grade was satisfactory.

Feversham first sought state backing in 1994, when the then Conservative-led government rejected a bid because of doubts about viability.

A second attempt two years later was also unsuccessful.

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