Search

Headteacher at Hindu school at centre of row urges new parents to visit – but stands by “no meat” policy and meditation lessons

07:01 10 July 2014

Avant Court Primary School, Carlton Drive, Barkingside.
HEAD TEACHER JAMES BIDDULPH

Avant Court Primary School, Carlton Drive, Barkingside. HEAD TEACHER JAMES BIDDULPH

Archant

The headteacher of a Hindu school at the centre of a row over school places has broken his silence – urging angry prospective Muslim and Christian parents to visit the school to become “better informed”.

Avant Court Primary School, Carlton Drive, Barkingside.
HEAD TEACHER JAMES BIDDULPHAvant Court Primary School, Carlton Drive, Barkingside. HEAD TEACHER JAMES BIDDULPH

Avanti Court Primary School in Barkingside hit the headlines after non-Hindu children were offered places at the school after being overlooked for their six preferred choices.

Speaking to the Recorder, headteacher James Biddulph said the school valued the diversity of its pupils, but would be sticking to its controversial “no meat” policy, meditation and yoga lessons.

The Recorder has also unearthed a report published last week of an investigation carried out by the Avanti Schools Trust following complaints from parents that it does not “operate strongly enough as a Hindu faith school”.

Mr Biddulph said: “We are an inclusive state-funded school and our ethos is about respecting the diverse world views in our communities, including other faiths.

“My message to parents would be come and visit the school, meet our children and staff, spend time in classrooms and I hope that parents will feel better informed about the inclusive nature of our school.”

But he stood by the school’s no meat policy, with children not allowed to bring their own lunches.

“We do not see anything wrong with a vegetarian diet,” he added.

While only a quarter of places are reserved for Hindus at the school, around 70 per cent of pupils practise the religion.

The recent investigation by Avanti Schools Trust director of education Usha Sahni and associate consultant Richard Sachse was sparked by complaints from 18 parents over concerns about a “culture of bullying” at the school.

But the report said Mrs Sahni and Mr Sachse had found no evidence to back up the claims.

Mr Biddulph, who was given the role when the school opened two years ago, said: “I felt concerned that there were parents unhappy that the Hindu faith dimension of the school wasn’t strong enough but welcomed their feedback.”

He said he “fully welcomed” the report’s recommendations, which include extending the teaching of Sanskrit to all pupils except Reception and teaching music and performing arts which reflect “cultural heritage and faith traditions”.

Latest News Stories

10:01
Library

Wondering how to fill half-term? Here’s a round-up of some of the events taking place in Redbridge this week.

Yesterday, 16:19
Members of the public use NatWest cash machines.

The NatWest branch in High Road, Seven Kings, will shut on September 28th.

Yesterday, 16:09
King George Hospital is opening its new state-of-the-art breast care centre. It features four consulting rooms, three ultrasound rooms, two mammography rooms and counselling facilities.
It also has additional x-ray space.
Breast care centers first patient Kathleen Walker, with Radiographer Claire Thorogood.

A hi-tech breast care centre has opened at King George Hospital – treating its first patient this week.

Yesterday, 15:44
Cllr Helen Coomb, cabinet member for planning and regeneration

More than 660 homes are set to be built in the borough by March next year – with 231 more after that, the council has said.

Most read news

Competitions

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Ilford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder