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Community celebrates groundbreaking ceremony at Sikh school Atam Academy

PUBLISHED: 13:00 10 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:20 10 July 2017

Sikhs walk in procession towards the building site where the ground breaking ceremony is taking place for a new Atam Academy building, on 8th July, 2017.

Sikhs walk in procession towards the building site where the ground breaking ceremony is taking place for a new Atam Academy building, on 8th July, 2017.

Catherine Davison

The permanent building for Redbridge’s first Sikh School is on its way after the foundations were laid at the weekend.

Sikhs pray at the ground breaking ceremony for a new Atam Academy building, on 8th July, 2017.Sikhs pray at the ground breaking ceremony for a new Atam Academy building, on 8th July, 2017.

A sunny Saturday marked the event at Atam Academy, which was led by Panj Pyare (five beloved ones), representing the men who formed the initial Khalsa.

Parents, pupils, community leaders, councillors and Ilford South MP Mike Gapes came together to watch the quintet lay the first bricks, in Little Heath, Chadwell Heath.

The school, which will eventually house pupils aged four to 18, is the third Sikh free school in the capital and the first of its kind in east London.

It currently has 75 pupils across two reception classes and one Year 1 class, with a waiting list for further Year 1 pupils.

Schoolchildren from Atam Academy start the procession towards the building site where the ground breaking ceremony is taking place for a new Atam Academy building, on 8th July, 2017.Schoolchildren from Atam Academy start the procession towards the building site where the ground breaking ceremony is taking place for a new Atam Academy building, on 8th July, 2017.

The new building will house all the pupils in a “all-through school” on the site, which was formerly Redbridge College’s playing fields.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, pupils performed the 17th-century hymn “Deh Shiva bar Mohe” and the Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Linda Huggett, and council leader Jas Athwal gave speeches.

Mankamal Singh, co-founder and chair of governors, said the milestone event was also an opportunity to thank the community for their ongoing support.

He said: “It was a really good day and an opportunity to tell everyone about the project.

“It’s great to reach this milestone and really thank everyone involved - the parents, the Gurdwaras, the Khalsa Academies Trust, Education Funding Agencies, John Clifton and the Salvation Army, the council, and lots more.

“We understand that they [the parents] took a huge gamble when they joined us and we’re so thankful it paid off.”


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