Free school Krishna Avanti Primary opens in Leicester

Pupils at the school start the day with yoga

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The first free school in the East Midlands has opened to pupils.

The Krishna Avanti Primary in Leicester is sponsored by a Hindu foundation but half of the school places are reserved for children outside the faith.

It is one of 24 free schools opening in England in September set up by groups of parents, charities or faith groups.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has praised the school's inclusive approach despite its Hindu ethos.

Mr Gove said: "This school gives all children the opportunity to have higher standards.

"It's a school which has a greater degree of freedom and latitude to tailor the curriculum to their particular needs.

"The school combined a respect for one of the core traditions of multi-cultural Britain and preparation for 21st century life."

'Morning meditation'

It currently has just 34 pupils but it is hoped this will increase to 400 over the next few years.

Pradip Gajjar, project director, said: "The morning begins with meditation.

"The children will do yoga every day and that's good for discipline, good for health and good for the mind as well."

Free schools do not have to follow the national curriculum and are directly funded by central government, outside of local authority control.

Ian Leaver from the National Union of Teachers said: "We oppose free schools because we believe it is taxpayers money that is being used to fund private education.

"We have an alternative that is better where there's collaboration between schools for the good of all children in Leicester.

"We believe it's an expensive ideologically driven experiment and expensive at a time when teachers and other council workers are losing their jobs."

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