Children's Secretary Ed Balls faces a Parliamentary inquiry into his plans to open hundreds of new state-funded faith schools.

MPs on the cross-party Schools Select Committee will grill the minister over his proposals next week.

Barry Sheerman, the Labour chair of the committee, said he wanted to hold a full investigation into faith in education. Mr Sheerman said: "Faith schools are an important area of concern.

"This is something the Government should look at in a focused way, rather than drifting into the proliferation of faith education."

Mr Sheerman, the MP for Huddersfield, said he was worried about the insular attitudes of some Muslim schools.

He said: "I am getting reports from people in local government who find it difficult to know what is going on in some faith schools - particularly Muslim schools.

"There is concern in local government about its ability to find out how well an important part of our community is being served by its education provision. Will we find out that young people in certain kinds of faith school, and particularly young women, are not getting the provision or education they deserve?"

In September, Mr Balls published plans for an expansion of state-funded faith schools. He promised money would be made available for about 100 independent Muslim schools to move into the state education system if they so wished.

He acknowledged demand for more school places from Hindu and Sikh families, as well as children of Catholic immigrants from eastern Europe. The Church of England also aims to open 100 new semi-independent, state-funded city academies in England.

The proposals have attracted fierce criticism from teachers' unions and secular groups.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said faith schools were "popular with parents" and can make an "important contribution to community cohesion by promoting inclusion and developing partnerships with schools of other faiths, and with non-faith schools". ..SUPL: