Sikh group wants to set up free faith school in Redbridge

Mankamal Singh is a keen supporter of free schools, set up by the government after the 2010 general

Mankamal Singh is a keen supporter of free schools, set up by the government after the 2010 general election - Credit: Archant

A Sikh group is organising an application to set up a free faith school in the borough as early as next year, after canvassing the support of “1500 parents”.

Ten Sikhs have formed Atam Academy group, in partnership with the Slough Sikh Education Trust – a provider of religious schools – to deliver a free faith school by September 2015 in Redbridge.

Before then the project has to be given the go-ahead by the Department for Education in May when it makes its application.

Mankamal Singh, 40, of Eastern Avenue, Gants Hill, and part of the 10-man group, said: “Being second generation British Sikhs we want to run a school based on a Sikh ethos.

“This is the challenge. It is about getting the right mix of people making sure that it is reflected in the type of school we are working towards.”

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Of the signatures collected since August, Mr Singh believes, 20 per cent are non-Sikh.

The signatures have been collected at venues across the borough, including at the Exchange Ilford shopping centre in High Road, Ilford, and nursery groups.

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The group, according to Mr Singh, hopes to have 50 per cent Sikh and 50 per cent non-Sikh pupils based at the school.

He described this as the “ideal scenario”.

Mr Singh revealed the group are currently searching for potential sites in the borough.

“We are hoping the registered interest [from parents] manifests itself into admissions,” added Mr Singh, who also works as an accountant at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in High Road.

The father-of-three said he is a supporter of the free school scheme introduced by the current government after the 2010 general election.

He said: “I will be honest, with the faith school scheme which the current government introduced it is a way of giving back to the community.

“Our school is going to benefit Redbridge and that is what appeals to me.”

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