This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Sikh community plans free school
Sikh leaders plan to set up a free school in the city.
They have applied to the Government for permission to create a free school and are in talks with the local authority over where it could be located.
Free schools are part of the Government's flagship new policies which allow parents, charities and faith groups, among others, to set them up.
They are funded directly by the Government and do not have to follow the national curriculum, but must provide a broad and balanced education.
Indy Panesar is president of Ramgarhia Sikh Temple in Maynell Road, off Uppingham Road, Leicester, and is one of the nine temple leaders in Leicester behind the application.
He said: "A lot of parents have approached us about setting up a school and after consulting with them and seeing that there's a demand, we have put together a business case for the Government to look at.
"There is a huge Sikh community in Leicester and parents would like the option of sending their child to a school which has a background in the faith so after considering it for some time we have decided to go ahead with this application.
"As such the school will be vegetarian and if we get the go-ahead it's hoped we can have it up and running by September 2013.
"Although the school's ethos will be from the Sikh faith, it will teach the national curriculum with 50 per cent of pupils coming from all backgrounds and religions."
A number of potential locations are currently under consideration, among them Ellesmere College in Braunstone.
The college is relocating to the former Riverside Community College site in Rowley Fields. The new Sikh school would be known as Leicester Sikh School.
Mr Panesar said: "It will be for children aged four to 11 with a reception class and year one class of 30 children in each during its first year with numbers growing thereafter.
"We're keen to work with the local authority to become one of the city's family of schools."
Initial set up costs for the school are paid for by the Government. Councillor Vi Dempster, Leicester City Council's spokeswoman for children, young people and schools, said: "We're always keen to work with partners to help ensure our school provision meets the needs of our communities."
Free schools were created by the Government to give parents more choice about the types of schools they send their children to.