Pupils sent to Sikh free school amid place shortage

The BBC is reporting that a shortage of places has resulted in more than 20 pupils being allocated places at a Sikh-ethos free school in Leeds that they did not choose…

Of the 30 pupils allocated a place at Khalsa Science Academy for next year, only eight named it as a choice.

The school is not a faith school, but it is run with a Sikh ethos.

Leeds City Council blamed ministers for prioritising free schools over locally run schools, but the Conservatives said the schools benefited young people.

Martin Wheatley’s five-year-old daughter is one of the children allocated a reception place at the school, which opened in September 2013 and is currently based on a temporary site in Chapeltown, three miles from his home.

He said: “We strongly believe in education being secular and not based on any one faith – and we expressly stated in our original application that we wanted a non-religiously affiliated education for our daughter…

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children and families, said: “We do understand the frustration these parents will be feeling and can very much sympathise with their predicament.

“Unfortunately this is the situation that we have been left with since the government ruled that local authorities are not able to open new schools, until academies and free schools have been ruled out.

“This leaves the council in a position where there may be more faith places in an area than parents are happy with..”


This doesn’t sound great but what’s the bigger principle here – how much of a right do or should parents have to exclude a school as unsuitable on grounds such as faith-ethos?

Please let us know how you see it in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove “Choice” in education is really working isn’t it? These people are over-the-moon with their “choice”. Well done Westminster!

  2. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove as long as schools need to function at capacity for financial reasons choice *can’t* exist- not mathamatically possible

  3. There obviously wasn’t a real demand for a Sikh primary in Leeds if only 8 parents named it as a choice.  This raises the question of what evidence of demand was presented to the DfE and why the DfE gave it the go-ahead.

    At the same time, LAs can’t open their own schools – I hope the next Gov’t will allow LAs to do so if they need to and not rely on academy chains or free school proposers.

  4. LaCatholicState

    SchoolsImprove I would rather send my kids to this school than to a secular state school….if no Catholic schools were available.

  5. LaCatholicState

    SchoolsImprove I would rather send my kids to this school than to a secular state school….if no Catholic schools were available.

  6. EA_Holmes

    LaCatholicState SchoolsImprove That’s a common sentiment I think, among those who value schools with a religious character.

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