Ruling due over UK’s first school for Muslims

Controversy is swirling around a plan to build Britain’s first Islamic school where half the pupils would be non-Muslims. A decision is expected next month on whether Al Habib Islamic Education and Cultural Centre, a charitable foundation in Swindon, will be given approval for the plan, worth £7 million (Dh38m). The charity wants to build the 420-pupil primary school in a predominantly non-Muslim area. Half the children at the school, which would be state funded, would come from the immediate vicinity. The ther 50 per cent will come from Muslim families farther afield. Plans submitted for approval by the charity involve setting aside an hour of classroom time each day for studying the Quran and Arabic. Non-Muslim pupils would not be obliged to attend these classes, but the charity hopes the majority would do so. “The school will follow the national curriculum and have teachers from different faiths,” a spokesman for Al Habib said. “We will be there to provide guidance in religious teaching but we want pupils to understand about all faiths, not just Islam.” The centre would run similarly to other denominational schools, the spokesman said. According to the Times Educational Supplement: “The plan marks a significant development for minority faith schools, which have traditionally been set up to deal with overwhelming demand from pupils from one religion.” David Stapsted reports.

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