The first Hindu state school in the UK will open in 2008 if plans submitted to the Government go ahead. Hinduism is the country's third-largest faith, with more than half a million followers, yet it has no designated state schools.
The Hindu Council said this week that the apparent marginalisation of Hindu pupils risked diluting the faith and turning future generations of British children off religion altogether. Now council officials in Harrow, north London, have drawn up proposals for a 240-pupil voluntary-aided Hindu primary.
The council said there was a groundswell of support for the project in the community, where one in five residents is Hindu.
An application for money to build the school has been made to the Department for Education and Skills. In England there are almost 5,000 state Anglican primary and secondary schools and around 2,000 Roman Catholic schools.
Jay Lakhani, of the Hindu Council, said: "As it stands, Hindu values are being lost; they are being abandoned in favour of a more western lifestyle."
Marilyn Mason, the British Humanist Association's education officer, said:
"Proliferation of minority faith schools seems almost inevitable given that so many church schools now exist."