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Fresh anger expressed over Sikh faith school

Fresh anger expressed over Sikh faith school

LAST year residents in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, made it clear that that did not want a Sikh faith school in their village.

Sikh

They got anyway – and and the authorities went so far has to order campaigners to remove their “intimidatory” protest signs after receiving a threatening legal letter.

Banners were erected for the “Keep Our Village a Village” campaign, launched to prevent the Khalsa Academy – operated by the Slough Sikh Education Trust –  from moving into a former office building in Hollybush Hill.

The council received a letter from HJ Templeman Solicitors, which stated:

Parents are concerned about the adverse effect of the signs on their children, some children have expressed fear at attending the school due to the intimidating signs.

Following the complaints, Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB ordered the “illegal” signs be removed. TfB officials also told staff at the Khalsa Academy to remove its own unauthorised school banners from the roadside.

The school was given temporary permission to open for 12 months after the Department for Education approved the move using new permitted development rights legislation.

The school is now at the centre of a fresh controversy, after it emerged that non-religious parents are being allocated places at the Khalsa Academy Secondary School, despite not including the school in their list of preferences.

Parents are now investigating the possibility of a human rights challenge. One parent told the National Secular Society:

We’re not a religious family so it’s clearly inappropriate for our children to be educated at a school with an overtly religious ethos. We’ll challenge this all the way.

Another parent said:

I am extremely upset and shocked. We are not a religious family, and yet I am being told I have to send my child to a faith school. How can I explain that to my child? Surely this is against the Human Rights Act to force a child to attend a faith school?

The European Convention on Human Rights requires states to respect the right of parents’ religious and philosophical convictions in respect of education and teaching. This aspect of the right is closely aligned to Article 9 of the Convention, which protects the right to freedom of religion and belief. It does not require the government to provide or subsidise any specific type of education.

Stephen Evans, campaigns manager at the National Secular Society, commented:

Leaving parents with no option other than to send their child to a school with an ethos entirely inconsistent with their own beliefs clearly fails to respect their right to have their religious and philosophical convictions respected.

The best way to ensure everyone’s rights are protected is to have inclusive schools that are equally welcoming to pupils regardless of their religion or belief background.

Mike Appleyard, cabinet member for education and skills at Buckinghamshire County Council said:

Buckinghamshire’s 69 faith schools are treated in the same way as schools with no faith background. Parents who prefer their children not to attend a faith school are able to make a transfer appeal application to the independent appeal process.

All parents of children allocated places at Khalsa Academy against their wishes are believed to be submitting appeals.

Despite describing itself as an “inclusive school”, Khalsa Academy claims to provide:

A learning environment within which children learn about spirituality, faith and practice Sikh values.

Panjabi and Sikh Studies are compulsory for all Sikh students, while non-Sikhs are separated to study an alternative modern foreign language. The school’s ‘Collective Worship’ features prayers of a Sikh nature, and a religious questionnaire for parents wishing to send their child to the school makes clear that the school has “regular religious functions” in which families are expected to take part.

In a video on the school’s website, Nick Singh Kandola, Chair of the school’s board of Trustees, says:

As Sikhs we believe this is a unique opportunity. This life time is given to us on earth to help those in need, to excel in ourselves and to find God – that’s our purpose here and we want to teach children those core values.

The school offers exclusively vegetarian meals with parents not permitted to make packed lunches in order to stop meat, fish, or eggs being brought onto site, which is also regarded as a place of worship. However, the school’s head has claimed in the local media that the school meals policy is simply based on trying to “encourage a healthy diet” rather than faith reasons.

The school opened as a free school in September 2013. Local campaigners argued that there was no need for a new school in the area and that the village lacks the infrastructure to cope with a large school. It is thought the majority of pupils attending the school would be bussed in from surrounding areas with higher proportions of Sikhs.

An application for the Khalsa Secondary Academy to stay at its Stoke Poges location beyond its current one-year agreement, which runs out in September, was rejected by South Bucks District Council in January. The Department for Education, which purchased the former office block and surrounding land for a reputed £4.5m, has now posted a new application with the Council.

Trevor Egleton, District Councillor for South Bucks, commented:

This application has been a travesty from the very beginning. The Department for Education have acted like the worst developer in the world, with every single aspect of what they are proposing in contravention of several national and local planning policies.

Parents that have been allocated places at the school have 20 school days from the notification date to submit their admissions appeals.

 

21 responses to “Fresh anger expressed over Sikh faith school”

  1. Trevor Blake says:

    “All faiths” is a broad camp to accomodate. Where can I send a child to be raised in the native religions of England? Won’t someone remember the Mithraic families?

  2. Bubblecar says:

    All power to the parents in this case, but it seems in modern UK the wishes of local inhabitants are routinely swept aside by the government-backed multi-culti “faith” machine.

    “encourage a healthy diet”

    A diet that excludes meat, fish and eggs is NOT a healthy diet.

  3. There will be trouble in the uk ...the pious will kick off big time soon. It's all brewing up. says:

    It’s time. Time to get the pious out of education. Religious schools perpetuate division mistrust hatred. Let the pious indoctrinate kids and we will get trouble. Doubt me! Then check this out. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/01/us-syria-crisis-prophecy-insight-idUSBREA3013420140401

  4. why do i have to share this planet with religious idiots says:

    Schools must be won back from the pious who teach kids that their religion is the only one. It is dangerous, immoral and deeply deeply stupid. All schools in the uk must be independent of religious interference and teach a secular agenda. If not, this country will be guilty of perpetuating religious zealotry bigotry hatred and intolerance. Stop the pious poisoning the minds of children. Save millions of lives and prevent untold suffering. Humanity is at a cross roads. We have one chance to save humanity. The choice is to either let the freeloading dogmatic parasitic religious sects drag us into oblivion or to put an end to the stupidity and the false hope that some mythical gods will save the faithful chosen ones. Once free of the shackles of religion we need to focus all our ingenuity to clean up the planet, develop sustainable technologies and stop the appalling growth in population. It can be done but I fear the pious are aching for their doom laden prophesies to come true. It will end in the most awful terminal conflict unless we consign religion to the scrap head of stupid ideas.

  5. Broga says:

    @why do i have to share this planet with religious idiots:

    You hit the bulls eye with that post. What is so depressing to me is the lack of concern, never mind action, from the politicians. They encourage these crazies by trying to accommodate their various superstitions. Of course, the religious crazies can never be satisfied. Yield a little and they want more. And all the different religions are convinced that they are right. So everyone else must change.

    What is also depressing is that so much time is given – the BBC being a major offender – to propagating superstition while censoring secular opinion. Hell, the BBC won’t even permit an occasional secular Thought for the Day despite the drivel oozing out every morning. Not only that, some overweening religious infected manager states, ex cathedra you might say, that there will be no change. No discussion. No accommodation for the many secular listeners and viewers.

    Meanwhile the planet is crammed with people encouraged to breed, the land is smothered in garbage, the seas are polluted and the air becomes suffocating.

  6. charlie says:

    Holy crap! This stinks like the absolute shit that it is. Religion is the most vile creation of mankind.
    O/T but I found this rather interesting. While we may applaud these women and their male backers, one does wonder why these mormon women seem to not “know their place” as it were. Hope this link works;
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mormon-women-turned-away-all-male-priesthood-meeting-n72946.
    While I like this report, your opinions may vary.

  7. 1859 says:

    @why do i have to share this planet with religious idiots:

    I fully agree. But you know what? People have known this for centuries. When I was growing up in a divided city in the UK in the 60’s protestant kids would spit through the school railings on the catlick kids and the catlicks would do exactly the same in return. Why? Because we went to ‘different’ schools. It was open warfare, pure hatred based on nothing but mindless ignorance – and we were only 9 and 10 years old for fucks sake! Even then it was as clear as daylight what was wrong – but it’s still happening today in Northern Ireland – religious doctrinal segregation of children. The idea that ‘faith’ schools can ‘accommodate’ the multicultural masses and teach harmony, tolerance and love – is just not born out by history. Inculcating just another form of self-righteous tribalism and calling it ‘education’ is a lie that must be exposed. It is fucking criminal that in 2014, schools built upon secular ideas are not offered, by the state, as an equally valid alternative to the plague of faith schools that appear to be opening up all over the UK. This does not bode well.

  8. ” When I was growing up in a divided city in the UK in the 60?s protestant kids would spit through the school railings on the catlick kids and the catlicks would do exactly the same in return. Why? Because we went to ‘different’ schools.”

    And because children love fighting, specially when they’re got a “reason” (that is, when the grown-ups approve of such disgusting behaviour). The idea is that one grows up and develops a mature attitude towards the world. Perhaps one should attain one’s “adult privileges” not when one turns 18, or 21, or 25 or whatever they’ll raise it to next, but when one demonstrates a proper attitude towards the world around them.

  9. 1859 says:

    @ Matt Westwood:

    ‘….but when one demonstrates a proper attitude towards the world around them.’

    Agreed – but Matt you have to admit that allowing faith schools to proliferate can hardly help that ‘proper attitude’ to emerge?
    The ‘attitude’ that is more likely to develop is one of narrow-minded ignorance and intolerance.

  10. Tom80 says:

    It appears to me they do not want any secondary school in their village. It being Sikh sponsored is irrelevant: See some of the comments on their petition
    http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/stokepogesvillage

    I think they would object to any secondary school being built so it being a faith school is totally irrelevant in this case.

  11. Brian Jordan says:

    An application for the Khalsa Secondary Academy to stay at its Stoke Poges location beyond its current one-year agreement, which runs out in September, was rejected by South Bucks District Council in January. The Department for Education, which purchased the former office block and surrounding land for a reputed £4.5m, has now posted a new application with the Council.

    Why is the DfE in charge of this planning application for the school? I thought “free” schools were supposed to be free of such interference.
    That apart, it couldn’t be anything to do with the potential red faces of bureaucrats liable to be asked about getting stuck with an unwanted £4,500,000 site, could it?

  12. barriejohn says:

    Tom: Can you not read?

    #We’re not a religious family so it’s clearly inappropriate for our children to be educated at a school with an overtly religious ethos. We’ll challenge this all the way.

    #I am extremely upset and shocked. We are not a religious family, and yet I am being told I have to send my child to a faith school. How can I explain that to my child? Surely this is against the Human Rights Act to force a child to attend a faith school?

    What’s the betting that this goes ahead anyway?

    http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/religious-group-wins-baginton-free-6842040?

  13. barriejohn says:

    Eric Pickles is demonstrating what this government thinks of “democracy”:

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/blog/2014/04/eric-pickles-dictatorial-disregard-for-the-law-is-dangerous-in-a-democracy

  14. Tom80 says:

    @barriejohn:
    Yes I do read: I looked at the petition and the majority of comments made appeared to be against having a secondary school:
    I worked in the area for a while and Stoke poges is one of these places that want to retain their village “feel”. Any secondary school would not be in keeping with the feelings of the majority of the inhabitants. As the majority of the Sikh population of that area is based in Slough the school would be better in Slough. I just think they would be against any secondary school in the “village”

  15. Brian Jordan says:

    Surely there are two grounds for opposition: that an un-needed secondary school is being imposed on a village, and that it is being established for the benefit of a religious group largely from outside the village. Three grounds: now it’s open, local children are being forced to go to a religious school against their parents’ wishes. Oh, four grounds: the Department for Education is forcing it onto the local council – no freedom there, then.

  16. charlie says:

    @barriejohn,
    Ouch! Bet old Pickles got his knickers in a twist from those comments from your NSS. I really like/agree with him not being able to place his personal beliefs before (above?) the law. He, Pickles, may want a theocracy, but from what I know, the UK is a democratic country, as we here in the US of A are supposed to be.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Brian Jordan: Thanks. I think you’ve just about summed it up!

    Charlie: Terry Sanderson has always been spot on with his analysis. Pickles seems to think that having an “established religion” means that we all have to belong to the CofE!

  18. jay says:

    This is a mess all the way around. The “keep our village a village” signs seem to be reminiscent of the anti immigrant mentality in Arizona “we don’t want no furriners (or other religions)”.

    On the other hand this government forced multiculturalism is itself offensive beyond belief.

  19. barriejohn says:

    Trouble at t’temple:

    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/sikh-battered-worshippers-different-temple-6929673?

    A judge said he was amazed it happened in the grounds of a temple “which holds itself out to have principles of truth, compassion, humility and love”.

    Nah – that’s just religion for you.

  20. As part of their punishment they could have their turbans removed and their heads and beards shaved.