Madrassas and primaries forge teaching links

1st February 2008 at 00:00
Primary teachers are to forge links with Islamic madrassas in a scheme to boost community cohesion and improve the education of Muslim children, writes David Marley.

Teachers at 45 schools in Bradford are being partnered with 15 Islamic schools to share information about what they do and their approaches to teaching.

There are already plans to expand the government-backed initiative to Manchester, Oldham and Leicester if it proves a success.

More than 3,300 children attend the madrassas that are taking part in Bradford. They typically attend for two hours a day, five days a week, and study the Koran and Arabic.

Mohammed Ali, chief executive of QED, the Bradford-based charity organising the programme, said there was a lack of understanding about the two types of school. "Teachers in one school do not know what is going on in the other schools," he said. "We need to build formal links to help improve the children's overall education."

Dr Ali said the scheme was intended to improve teacher, rather than pupil, understanding.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is providing pound;540,000 to fund the project over the next three years.

A number of local headteachers have already visited madrassas under the scheme.

Michael Latham is head of Newby Primary in Bradford, where more than 90 per cent of the pupils are Muslim. He works closely with his local madrassa, which educates more than 500 children.

"Both schools are key partners in developing confident and aspirational young people," he said.

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