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SHEPHARD LEAVES DOOR OPEN FOR MUSLIM SCHOOLS TO JOIN GM SECTOR

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The application for voluntary aided status from the governors of the independent Muslim Girls' Community School, Br...
The application for voluntary aided status from the governors of the independent Muslim Girls' Community School, Bradford, has been unsuccessful, education secretary Gillian Shephard has announced.

But she made it clear that the door remains open for this and other Muslim schools to join the maintained sector.

'I have given this application long and careful consideration. I am very much aware of the strong local demand for single-sex places for Muslim girls and the wide support for the school among the Bradford community; support that is not confined to the Muslim community.

'Whilst I have had to reject this present application, I do not want it to be seen as closing the door on this or any other Muslim school joining the state sector. I have asked my officials to work with the sponsors of the Bradford Muslim Girls Community School to help them overcome the current shortcomings in their application.

'Schools minister Robin Squire has met the governors and invited them to further discussions with officials to advise them on any further application.

'But all applications I receive for a new school to enter the publicly funded sector must be judged by the same criteria.

'These criteria include provision of the national curriculum, satisfactory health and safety standards and the demand for additional places in the area.

'The proposals for accommodation at Bradford's Muslim Girls' Community School do not meet the health and safety standards required for new schools entering the state sector.

'Any school entering the public sector must, by law, deliver the full national curriculum and assessment arrangements.

'In our view, the management and organisation of this school are insufficiently developed to enable it to meet these legal requirements. The school's proposals also failed to give a commitment to delivering technology - a vital component of the national curriculum.

'Let me be clear - I welcome sound proposals from Muslim as from other schools. If proposals for VA status from Muslim promoters come before me that meet the criteria, it is likely that I will approve them.'

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