A Sikh temple is planning to create two “free schools” in Birmingham – but they will be open to people from all religions.
An education trust created by worshippers at Gurdwara Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha, in Soho Road, is to open a new secondary school on the site of a former factory in Hockley.
It is also to create a new primary school in Soho Road, Handsworth, under Government plans to open schools led by private organisations such as parents’ groups, faith bodies or teachers themselves.
The state-funded schools were among 16 proposals for new “free schools” to receive early approval from Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Nishkam Secondary School will open on the former Lucas factory site in Great King Street, Hockley, if the scheme goes ahead.
It will serve up to 1,000 pupils and children from the Sikh community will be given preference for half the places, while the other half will be open to all youngsters regardless of their religion.
Although free schools receive government funding, residents have already raised more than £2 million to buy the site. Co-ordinator Ranjit Singh said: “We want good exam results, but also to emphasise the value of morals and ethics.
“We have a basic belief that you don’t convert people to your faith. These will be multi-faith schools.” The scheme will now progress to the next stage of the process and Guru Nanak Nishkam Education Trust will develop a full business case. If this is approved, the schools could open by next September.
Mr Gove said: “We need to reform our education system if we are to accelerate improvement to keep pace with the highest-performing systems of the world.”
But Labour’s shadow education secretary Ed Balls said: “Rather than pursuing an ideological free market in education that will favour some at the expense of everyone else, Mr Gove should continue with the investment and reforms which under Labour led to rising standards and the fastest improvements amongst the poorest children.”