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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Call for more multi-faith schools
Sir Cyril Taylor
Sir Cyril Taylor wants more non-sectarian schools
A government advisor is calling for multi-faith academies to be built in the East Midlands to avoid the creation of religious and racial ghettos.

Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said non-sectarian academies should be built at "the heart of community life".

The schools would be open seven days a week throughout the year and offer courses for adults in the evenings.

Sir Cyril said his idea is designed to integrate all groups, not just Muslims.

The East Midlands first state-funded Muslim school opened in Leicester a few weeks ago and is already over-subscribed.

I think there is a lot of support for the principle of using schools ... as centres of the community
Sir Cyril Taylor

But Madani High School principal Mohamed Mukadam said his school's new status is a positive step and can play a role in promoting social harmony.

"It will make the Muslim community much more inclusive - up until now they have felt to be marginalised outside the community. Now they are coming into the system it will be a great opportunity to integrate."

The high school, which has its own mosque and teaches girls and boys separately, has 2,000 local Muslims on the waiting list.

About 90% of the 18m cost came from the government, with the Muslim community in Leicester raising the rest.

'High standard'

"I think there is a lot of support for the principle of using schools - as not only for a place for educating students to a high standard - but to be centres of the community," Sir Cyril said.

The schools would also be a base for English lessons for ethnic minority parents who do not speak English and allow their sports facilities to be used by local residents.

He suggested Muslim children could be taught the Koran at their school after hours instead of having to go to a local mosque.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Inside Leicester's new Islamic school



SEE ALSO
Academy plan faces fresh doubts
21 Apr 06 |  Leicestershire
Building work starts at college
05 Feb 06 |  Leicestershire

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