By The National Secular Society
Eleven children whose parents refused places at a Hindu faith school in the London borough of Redbridge have been left with no school place for September.
Families of children allocated places at Avanti Court Primary School in Essex refused the places, saying the school’s religious ethos is at odds with their own beliefs and values.
Redbridge Council has sought to evade responsibility for the lack of suitable school places by saying that none of the children would be of statutory school age before January. Under current law children in England must be in education from the term after their fifth birthday, but the law also allows for pupils to start school earlier.
Naz Qureshi, the Muslim mother of a four-year-old daughter from South Woodford, said: “I was gobsmacked and outraged when they told me I didn’t get any of my six chosen choices of schools.”
“I didn’t want her to go to a Hindu school so I am surprised the council would think I would accept a faith school which I didn’t even apply for.”
Ms Qureshi told BBC Asia Network that the family would now have to consider paying for private schooling as a last resort.
Liz Beck, whose four-year-old son was due to start school in September told the BBC: “Culturally it’s quite different and even though we don’t want to shelter our son from other cultures, we feel it would be difficult for him to be in that environment where it’s quite different from what we believe”.