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Muslims bid for first faith school

Campaigners for the first state-funded Muslim school in Scotland have called on Glasgow to save a west end primary from closure under the city's pre-12 strategy.

A recently formed group of parents and members of the Al-Furqan mosque in Glasgow is calling on the authority not to close Willowbank primary, which is 98 per cent Muslim, and move its pupils to a new super-primary of four primaries and two nurseries in the Hillhead area.

It wants the school, which has a capacity of around 300, to become the first Muslim state primary and is convinced that faith status would significantly increase its current roll of 69.

Osama Saeed, a member of the Muslim Association of Britain and a representative of the Al-Furqan mosque, said: "It is inevitable, at some point, that Glasgow will have to set up a Muslim school for its taxpayers.

There is unlikely to be a better, easier or smoother opportunity for it.

"This proposal would require no extra money, and there would be no upheaval in terms of staff. All that would be required is something built into the structure of the school to provide guidance on maintaining a Muslim ethos.

"No drama would be involved, and the school would be made viable and saved from closure."

As long as staff were happy with the ethos of a faith school, there would be very little change to its core curriculum. Potential changes might include a move away from the traditional structure of the school calendar.

Prayers at lunchtime and a few hours a week of religious instruction would be other requirements.

"What parents are looking for really is an alternative model of teaching,"

Mr Saeed said. "Where there is real concern about the current state system is in areas such as the peer pressure that comes with things like girlfriends and boyfriends, and drink. We want more of a moral fibre to a school."

A spokesman for the city council said: "Willowbank is one of many pre-12 establishments in Glasgow currently subject to an extensive public consultation and we welcome all contributions to that exercise. However, we are giving no response to any specific aspect of any of the consultations until they are all concluded and the council takes decisions in early 2006."

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