Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Saturday, 7 June 2008 16:47 UK

Ceremony marks Hindu school work

The ceremony at Krishna-Avanti school
The ceremony marked the beginning of construction work at the school

A ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction of England's first Hindu state school has been held in London.

The Krishna-Avanti primary school in Edgware will take its first pupils in September but, initially, classes will be held in temporary accommodation.

The construction of the 10m school is expected to finish by August 2009.

The ceremony called Bhumi Puja involved seeking permission from Mother Earth by priests chanting ancient prayers accompanied by drums and cymbals.

The school, which offers 236 places, will have its own Hindu temple and all meals will be vegetarian, but its lessons will follow the national curriculum.

'Admissions discrimination'

Critics have warned that faith schools could divide communities.

Andrew Copson, from the British Humanist Association, said: "What makes faith schools different from community schools is the fact that they can discriminate in their admissions... to select children on the basis of religion and sometimes of course that coincides with ethnicity."

This viewpoint was dismissed by the school's headteacher Naina Parmar who said the school would "promote community cohesion, inclusion and value inter-cultural and religious diversity".

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.

The I-Foundation, which has promoted the founding of the school in Edgware, has also proposed Hindu schools in Barnet and Leicester, combining both primary and secondary levels.

Last autumn, the Department for Children, Schools and Families repeated its commitment to faith schools where there was local demand from parents.




SEE ALSO
Hindu state school beginning work
06 Jun 08 |  Education
First UK Hindu school in London
12 Oct 05 |  London
Faith schools set for expansion
10 Sep 07 |  Education
Faith schools quota plan scrapped
26 Oct 06 |  Education

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