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State to pay for Muslim schools

State to pay for Muslim schools



From   October 23, 2005

AS MANY as 100 Muslim schools are likely to apply for state funding under reforms to be announced this week in an education white paper.

Ministers are expected to offer all Britain’s private faith schools the opportunity to join the state sector in an attempt to raise regulatory and teaching standards.

The move follows a warning in January from David Bell, chief inspector of schools, that an increasing number of private Muslim schools were becoming detached from mainstream British society.

Many, say critics, are no more than religious kindergartens, some with no properly qualified teachers or modern educational facilities. If they join the mainstream, they will be required to teach the national curriculum and will be inspected regularly.

There about 120 small private Muslim schools in Britain which educate about 20,000 children.

The Association of Muslim Schools, which has already been given 100,000 by Ruth Kelly, the education secretary, has been co-ordinating efforts to encourage schools to apply for full public funding. Mohamed Mukadam, its chairman, said not all Muslim schools operated to the standards required of schools to receive state funding. “The schools do not have many resources and they are struggling,” he said.

There are only five state-funded Muslim schools, but they include one of the country’s best performing comprehensives — Feversham College in Bradford, the first all-girls’ Muslim school where 70% of pupils got five higher grade GCSEs.

Some schools, however, do not want to join the state sector. Zahid Aziz, head teacher at Preston Muslim girls’ school in Lancashire, said: “We do not want our teaching criteria changed.”

Hamid Chunara, head of Afifah High school for girls in Manchester, said: “We have an admissions test for students and if we became a state school that might not be allowed.”