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Muslim Free School plans abandoned by DfE following extremism fears

Plans to open a Muslim Free School in Halifax this September have been abandoned by the Department for Education (DfE) after concerns were raised over extremism. The Northern Lights Primary School initially won support from the DfE to open, but was rejected last week following an investigation. The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed the fact that the Government treated this matter seriously.

Concerns were first raised about the proposal after the Sunniyy School, a private school backing the Free School proposals, sent a supporting letter to local homes saying ‘If it was said to us “If you do not attend this meeting your child will die” I am certain we would all make sure that we attend the meeting. What I am about to address (in Islam) is even more serious than death and that is for us and our children to be safe on the Day of Judgement. There have been several incidents recently where children in various settings have been forced to do things against Islam.’ After the local Council concluded that there were wide links between the private school and the Free School, the DfE’s Due Diligence and Counter Extremism Division decided to put the Free School proposal on hold and launch an investigation.

Now the DfE has rejected the plans. The decision is not explicitly related to the investigation, but refers to ‘concerns about the group’s capacity and capability, inclusiveness and governance’.

BHA Faith Schools Campaigner Richy Thompson commented, ‘While we don’t know for certain that extremism concerns led to this Free School proposal being rejected, we welcome the fact that the Government took this matter seriously and that it is now resolved.

‘It is vital that every state school is fully inclusive of its local community and makes a strong contribution to community cohesion. It is clear that this proposal was some way from that ideal.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Richy Thompson on 020 7324 3072.

Read the previous BHA news item, ‘Group tells parents that attending meeting in support of proposed Islamic Free School is “more serious than death”’, 12 April 2013: http://humanism.org.uk/2013/04/12/group-tells-parents-that-attending-meeting-in-support-of-proposed-islamic-free-school-is-more-serious-than-death/

Read the previous BHA news item, ‘Muslim free school proposal put on hold over concerns about extremism’, 30 April 2013: http://humanism.org.uk/2013/04/30/muslim-free-school-proposal-put-on-hold-over-concerns-about-extremism/

Read coverage of the news in the Halifax Courier: http://www.halifaxcourier.co.uk/news/calderdale/northern-lights-free-school-rejected-by-department-for-education-1-5807537

And the Yorkshire Post: http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/general-news/halifax-free-school-plan-blocked-over-islamic-fears-1-5809219

Read more about the BHA’s campaigns work on ‘faith’ schools: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/faith-schools

View the BHA’s table of types of school with a religious character: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/schools-with-a-religious-character.pdf

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

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