UK:-A second bid to create a Sikh free school in Leicester is being submitted to the Department for Education. In July, proposals by nine temple leaders across the city were turned down because they were not deemed strong enough.
Now they are in the process of resubmitting plans to create a school by September 2014. Free schools are set up by charities, parents or teachers outside local authority control, but paid for by the state.
They do not have to follow the national curriculum, but must provide a broad and balanced education.
If it is given the go-ahead, the school will be called Falcon’s Primary. Although it will welcome children from all faiths, half of the places will be reserved for those from the Sikh faith. In addition, it will serve only vegetarian food.
Harminder Jagdev is project leader for the Sikh school steering group, as it is known. “Leicester is a very diverse city and we feel like we have a lot to offer the community through an educational facility,” said Mr Jagdev.
“The school will teach the national curriculum, but be based on Sikh values, such as compassion and determination.
“Most importantly, we want our children to be independent thinkers, so we will develop the curriculum around that through the use of topics.
“The city also has a shortage of primary school places and we can help fill that gap.
“We want to be as inclusive as possible, and that’s why the school will be called Falcon’s Primary.
“In the Sikh faith this represents freedom, so we thought it was perfect for highlighting that all religions will be free to come to our school and practise their faith.”
Leicester City Council has predicted a shortage of primary school places in the city because of a growing birthrate and more people moving into the area.
Education bosses say the number of primary spaces needs to more than double in the future and 600 of these places will be required by 2015.
A site for the school is being sought.
Mr Jagdev, who is also managing director of engineering firm Leicester Precision Components, said: “The Government is keen that free schools are set up in areas of deprivation so that whole community can receive the best type of education.
“We’re having discussions with the city council about this and are considering a number of options in the Freemans, Abbey, Hamilton, and Humberstone wards. We don’t expect to have any firm decisions until February on this but we’re really excited about what the future could hold.
“However, we will have to wait and see if we get permission from the Government first.”
Business applications for free schools must be with the Department for Education by January 4. Interviews for the next stage of the process take place in March before a final decision is taken in May.
A council spokeswoman said: “We are supportive of the group’s ambition and have provided them with data to help their application.”