Sikh temple reveals plan for new Derby faith school
PLANS for a second faith-based free school in Derby are being drawn up by members of the Sikh community.
The proposed Derby Sikh Academy would build on the existing Sunday Punjabi school, which attracts up to 200 pupils, at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara temple, in Princes Street.
The new school, serving a Sikh population of 8,000, would be one of only three similar free schools in the country if it goes ahead and opens in September 2014.
Dr Daljit Singh Virk, head of education at the temple, said members had already been in talks with the Government and a final application had to be submitted by January 5.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
He said: "We have plenty of room to create the school on the Princes Street site, both in existing buildings and also there is room to build more classrooms.
"We are likely to start with two classes – one for reception pupils and the other for year one children – with 30 pupils in each.
"Half of the children who attend the school would be Sikh, while the remainder will be from other communities and faiths.
"The national curriculum, with the focus on literacy and numeracy, will be the key focus, accompanied by good social values such as those found in the Sikh faith."
The new school would also share the site with the Sikh National Museum and has extensive car parking space.
Dr Virk, who is a senior research fellow at Bangor University, said: "This is a deprived area of the city and has many social problems, such as drugs and crime.
"There are a number of under-performing and over-subscribed schools, which is why we want to introduce a school with good moral values and good behaviour."
Mr Virk said that "liberty, fraternity and equality" are key parts of the Sikh religion with no discrimination for gender, race or ethnicity, which will "develop inter-community understanding".
He said: "Two meetings are planned in the local community to enable all aspects of the school to be explained. We would encourage everyone to come along and see what is proposed."
The meetings will take place next Monday at Sinfin Library, in Arleston Lane, and on Wednesday, October 10, at Pear Tree Library, Pear Tree Road. Both are from 5pm to 7pm.
Pupils would attend the school for free and the money which would have been provided for them at other schools would go to the Sikh school instead. Funds would be made available to the school by the Government to carry out building work.
Derby's first faith-based free school, the Al-Madinah Muslim school, opened in September. It was originally aiming to set up in St And-rew's House, London Road, but a change of plan led to its classes being run at Norman House, in Friar Gate, until other premises are ready.
The announcement that Derby was to have a faith school met with opposition from teaching unions in particular. They said they were concerned that pupils would be drawn from existing schools to go to the faith school and teaching jobs would be lost as a result.
Concerns were expressed by devout Muslims that Al-Madinah School would not be "devout enough".
The unions also said that teaching other faiths in specially created schools could be divisive in communities.
Dave Wilkinson, branch secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "We are not opposed to faith schools but are strongly opposed to free schools. For example, Al-Madinah has terms and conditions of service far less favourable than the state sector and this is the real issue for NASUWT.
Councillor Ajit Atwal, Lib Dem councillor for Abbey Ward, said: "The council has no decision-making powers on this but there are consultation meetings which will give people a chance to make their own judgement about the proposed academy."