Rabbi opposes free Sikh school in Slough

Sikh children A Sikh secondary school is planned for Slough

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A Maidenhead rabbi has opposed plans for a free school in Slough.

The Slough Sikh Education Trust hopes to set up a free school with a Sikh ethos as a solution to the number of oversubscribed schools in the town.

Rabbi Jonathan Romain has said he feared the Sikh community would become segregated.

However, the Slough Sikh Education Trust has said it hopes to attract 50% of its pupils from non-Sikh backgrounds.

'Variety of backgrounds'

Mr Romain said he opposed what he called "the proliferation of faith schools".

"Effectively they segregate children.

"At the moment the Sikh community is very integrated at school, Sikh children mix with Jewish and Christian children," he said.

The trust, which is still looking for a site on which to build its new school, said it hoped to provide a "rigorous academic education of the standard associated with selective schools or high-performing faith schools".

Hardip Sohal, chair of governors at Khalsa Primary School, which is already run by the Sikh Education Trust, said: "We aspire to provide opportunities for children, both Sikh and non-Sikh, from a variety of backgrounds and not just those who can afford to go private, or attend through selective entry."

Mr Sohal said the school could specialise in horse-riding and archery and promote the Sikh faith, with compulsory lessons in Panjabi, Sikh Studies and Gurbani (Sikh Scriptures).

There will be 120 places available in each year group and the organisation hopes to start to admit pupils in Years 7, 8 and 9 in 2012.

Free schools are part of the government's reforms to education in England, and allow groups of local parents, teachers or charities to establish their own schools.

The government says not enough children get into their first choice of secondary school, and free schools will give parents greater choice.

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