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Fears of racial division if mixed Nottingham secondary closes

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a school in Nottingham claim closure could force its Muslim pupils to move to Muslim-only schools, writes Sue Learner.

Their fight starts as the Government looks again at the role of faith schools after the segregation of pupils was cited as one reason for racial conflict in northern cities.

Ministers are committed to introducing more faith schools but Education Secretary Estelle Morris this week said that ministers needed to do " serious thinking".

Plans in Nottingham to close the under-subscribed Forest secondary in August 2002 and transfer the buildings to Djanogly city technology college have led to fears of a racial split.

More than a third of pupils at the school are of Pakistani and Indian origin. Leo Keely of the Defenders of Forest School is concerned that these children will choose Muslim-only schools rather than the technology college.

Linda Jordan of the Nottingham branch of the National Union of Teachers said: "At the moment there is integration but closing the school could destabilise a close-knit multi-cultural community."

She also criticised the technology college for "turning away" children with learning difficulties.

But Djanogly principal Rosemary Potter insisted, despite a "non-verbal" technology aptitude entrance test, "children with learning difficulties get on like everybody else".

Nottingham is reorganising its secondaries. This will leave it with seven specialist (including the CTC) and three faith schools out of a total of 20 secondaries.

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