London, March 20: A Britain-based Sikh group has been working on a proposal to set up a free faith school in the London borough of Redbridge area in Greater London with nearly 1,500 parents extending their support to the cause, media reported.
The Atam Academy Group (AAG), comprising 10 Sikhs as members, has in collaboration with Slough Sikh Education Trust (SSET), an active provider of Sikh schools in England, sought to start the new school at Redbridge by September next year, the Ilford Recorder reported Wednesday.
The group hopes to have 50 percent faith-based and 50 percent non-faith-based seats at the school, describing this as an “ideal scenario”.
Beginning in August last year, the signatures have been collected at venues across the borough. The application is due for approval by education authorities in May this year.
AAG, previously known as Seva School Ilford, is a community-led project bringing education to children encompassing the underlying ethos of the Sikh faith.
“Our school is going to benefit Redbridge district and that is what appeals to me,” Mankamal Singh, second generation British Sikh and an AAG member, was quoted as saying.
He noted that nearly one-fifth of the signatures belong to non-Sikh people.
“This is the challenge. It is about getting the right mix of people making sure that it is reflected in the type of school we are working towards,” he said.
An accountant at the Seven Kings Gurdwara in High Road, Singh is a keen supporter of free schools set up by the government after the 2010 general elections.
Free schools were introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government making it possible for parents, teachers, charities and businesses to set up their own schools. These are an extension of the existing academies programme.