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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 November, 2003, 14:51 GMT
Muslim school campaign planned
Iqra Academy
Iqra Academy in Glasgow closed earlier this year
Campaigners are set to launch a drive to establish state-funded Muslim schools in Scotland.

Glasgow City Council is expected to come under particular pressure due to the area's large Muslim population.

First Minister Jack McConnell has said it would be wrong to rule out the introduction of schools for other faiths.

The Muslim Association of Britain welcomed his comments, which it has seen as a "green light" for Muslim schools.

Local authorities will be lobbied in the forthcoming campaign involving parents, teachers and community leaders.

The association said Glasgow City Council would come under particular pressure.

Carefully considered

Four schools in the city have school rolls where more than 90% of pupils are Muslim.

Mr McConnell's comments were made during an interview with Holyrood Magazine.

He said: "Any additions to the system for other faiths or groups need to be carefully considered. It would be wrong to rule them out."

That was welcomed by Osama Saeed of the Muslim Association of Britain.

It is open to any denomination to ask an education authority to establish a school to be run along particular denominational lines
Scottish Executive
He said: "We are the second largest faith grouping in Scotland after Christianity yet we do not have a single Muslim school.

"Currently Muslim children have to attend supplementary classes on weekends and evenings for their Islamic studies.

"This is not needed, especially at a time when Muslims are achieving lower exam results than the national average.

"Muslim schools would go a major way to redressing this problem."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said decisions on single-faith schools were a matter for local authorities.

He said: "Scottish ministers have no deciding role in establishing new schools - denominational or otherwise.

Formal application

"It is open to any denomination to ask an education authority to establish a school to be run along particular denominational lines.

"Education authorities are not obliged to provide such schools but must have regard to the general principle that children should be educated in accordance with their parents' wishes so far as this is feasible."

Glasgow City Council has refused to comment until it receives a formal application from parents.

A private Islamic school in the city closed its doors earlier this year after a critical report by inspectors.

Learning and teaching at Iqra Academy, on the south side of Glasgow, was said to be of poor quality.

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