Assisted place plan can help Muslims

6th April 2001 at 01:00
The proposals to "re-introduce" state funds into the independent sector outlined by Biddy Passmore ("New assisted places scheme", TES, March 23) overlook one important point: the ability to do so already exists.

The Education Act 1996, Section 18, is clear: Local education authorities "may make arrangements for the provision of primary and secondary education for pupils at schools not maintained by them or another local education authority". This facility has been used by Roman Catholics, for example, to obtain a denominational education for their children where their own LEA has no aided Catholic schools.

Authorites can, and do, use the money received per pupil in the standard spending assessment to place pupils at independent school, exactly as proposed by the Independent Schools Council.

Predictably, when Muslim parents have sought access to the same facility, local authorities have refused them, while still buying places at local independent Catholic schools.

The education system is already full of discrimination, so concern about a revived assisted places scheme that seeks to widen participation and choice is misplaced.

Ibrahim Hewitt

Association of Muslim Schools

1 Evington Lane


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