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SCHOOL CHIEFS SLAM MUSLIM BIAS CLAIMS

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By Mithran Samuel ...
By Mithran Samuel

Education directors have rejected claims in a report that the education system is biased against Muslim pupils

The report, by a group of Muslim academics, claims the education system fails pupils from the faith's community, and that the number of Muslim state schools - currently just five - should be increased to combat the problem.

The Association of Muslim Social Scientists, which published Muslims on education this week, is also reported to have claimed institutional racism is preventing councils from admitting private Muslim schools into the state sector.

However, Chris Waterman, executive director of the Confederation of Education Service Managers, said: 'The majority of parents seem to want a good education within a multi-faith, multi-ethnic context.

'Given that regulations [for creating new faith schools] apply to all faith schools, it's difficult to understand the claim that there is institutional racism.'

Improvement & Development Agency associate director Ted Cantle, who chairs the government's community cohesion panel, said that councils were naturally resistant to creating more faith schools because of fears of segregation.

He said: 'I think there is a resistance to develop more faith schools, irrespective of faith, because there's a general recognition that separate schooling is leading to separate neighbourhoods, and separate neighbourhoods are leading to separate schooling.'

Mr Cantle chaired the government's inquiry into the 2001 disturbances in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham, which found evidence of deep-seated residential and educational ethnic segregation.

He added: 'We shouldn't need to depend on faith schools to have schools that cater for Muslims.'

However he said the current situation, in which there were a large number of Roman Catholic and Church of England schools and so few Muslim schools, was clearly inequitable.

Mithran.samuel@emap.com

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