Sikh free school could ease demand for places

Slough, UK: A chairman of a trust hoping to set up a new Sikh free school has said it could help the county meet the demand for school places.

Slough Sikh Trust has secured a site for the new Khalsa Secondary School, in Hollybush Hill, Stoke Poges where Pioneer UK is based, and is now waiting for the final agreement from the Department of Education before posting a planning application.

Chairman of Slough Sikh Trust Nick Kandola, speaking to the Advertiser, said the new school would help alleviate the pressure on school places in the area, as well as provide a school for Sikhs.

He said: “A couple of years ago, calculations by the council showed there was a need for more school places – about four new schools – to meet demand. There’s already a shortage and with more people moving it’ll get worse. I expect as people move from Slough to South Bucks, as many in the Asian community are, the problem will become more apparent there too.

“I’d say about 20 per cent of free schools are based on a faith. There are Catholic, Jewish and Muslim schools, but nothing for the Sikh community. We built the primary school in Slough, but there is nowhere for the pupils to go afterwards for secondary. We wanted a school where faith could be part of the curriculum.”

A consultation into the plans was launched earlier this month, and drop in sessions are planned to provide more details.

Mr Kandola said: “We’ll be able to give some more details of the curriculum and how the school will work. They’ll get a chance to hear about the facilities and how the community can benefit. They can also let us know about any concerns. We have also offered to meet the parish council and a group from the local community, which I hope they will take us up on.”

The free school will follow the national curriculum, but will run extra classes with pupils in Punjabi, Sikh studies and Gurbani Sikh scriptures, as well as archery and horse riding.

He added: “We’re hoping people can see the benefit of the extra activities. We see them as traditional sports, but these are things that people have seen in the Olympics so we expect a lot of interest. The local community will also be able to use the facilities. We’re keen to engage with them and see what they’d like.”

“Non-Sikh pupils will still have extra classes, but won’t need to take the Sikh lessons. They can take extra science or another language.”

The Pioneer UK site is currently a two-storey building with Japanese gardens. The trust hopes to refurbish it as well as build extra space.

Source: BuckinghamshireAdvertiser.co.uk

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