Saturday, 25 May 2013


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury (but not on its website):
Temple leaders yet to decide site of new Sikh free school
by Fiona Dryden, Education Correspondent
Sikh leaders in the city have yet to decide where their new free primary school will be.
The Department for Education announced this week that a bid by nine temple leaders in Leicester to create one of the government's new-style schools had been given the go-ahead.
Although it is expected to open in September 2014, a location for the school, to be known as Falcon's Primary, has yet to be confirmed.
The bid was the second to be made by the Sikh school steering group.
A previous application in July last yer was turned down by the Government because it was not deemed strong enough.
Indy Panesar, a spokesman for the group, said: "We're working closely with the department and the city council to find a suitable site."
He said the bid had been well researched and robustly presented to meet the criteria laid out by the department.
Mr Panesar said: "I'd like to praise the team of volunteers who have sacrificed substantial amounts of their precious spare time.
"Leicester's reputation as a beacon of multi-cultural living is well deserved and we trust this new multi-faith proposition will allow all prospective students to fulfil their potential.
"We aim not only for academic success, but also to equip youngsters with the life skills to cope in today's society."
Free schools are set up by charities, parents or teachers outside local authority control, but paid for by the state.
Although Falcon's primary will welcome children from all faiths, half of the places will be preserved for Sikhs and it will serve only vegetarian food.
Councillor Vi Dempster, assistant city mayor for schools, said that it was "heartening" the group was committed to working in partnership with the council and schools across the city in the best interests of all children.
The school could help alleviate some of the shortfall in primary places in the city.
The city council has already pledged £15 million towrds creating extra classrooms at 17 primaries to help meet predicted demand.
The work will create 380 places in Leicester - needed because of a rising birth rate, arrivals to the city and because more residents are expected to choose local schools over those in the county as results ontinue to improve.
Government cash will help fund the cost of creating the new primary. It is not yet known how much this will be.
However, the Department for Education spent £4.5 million buying and developing the city's only other free school, Krishna Avanti, in Spencefield Lane, Evington, on behalf of the Krishna Avanti Trust. The trust contributed £200,000 of its own cash.

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