Parents and pupils protest potential changes to faith school

CoventryLive has reported that pupils and parents put together a protest on Monday to fight against the academisation of a faith school

Over 100 pupils and parents protested on Monday morning regarding plans to transfer their faith school to a different academy trust.

Monday morning classes at Seva School were missed as the children jointed their parents outside Coventry’s DfE offices.

The Sevak Education Trust was previously warned by the DfE that government funding may be withdrawn if serious improvements weren’t made to the school; it was deemed ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2016.

The concept of transferring the school to another trust has been met with resistance, as parents and Sikh community leaders fear the school losing its “Sikh ethos and religious freedoms”.

Parents at the protest told CoventryLive that they were disappointed they hadn’t been consulted on the change.

One anonymous mother said: “I am here to support Seva School. I am terribly disappointed to possibly change it into a multi faith school.

“We worked so hard to keep this school as a Sikh school. My child is doing so well here. She has good friends, and it is a real community feel. Myself and my husband both work full time, so don’t necessarily have time to go to the Gurdwara, but at the school, they teach this along with the education our children need.

“So we thought putting our daughter in this school she would get the education and the faith element which we think is really really important. We are just so disappointed that the trust is going to change and it might go to a trust that is a multi-faith school which just defeats the object of us putting our child in this school.”

The school’s trustees claim the DfE wants them to join the Nishkam Schools Trust, which runs multi-faith schools with a Sikh faith ethos, and say that the religious practice at schools run by that trust are different from mainstream Sikhism.

A spokesperson for the Trust said, in a previous statement to CoventryLive: “Seva School’s Funding Agreement is being terminated by the Department for Education (DfE) because it was judged by Ofsted to be Inadequate in 2016, entering special measures.

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“For two years since, Ofsted concluded the school has not been able to achieve sufficient improvements. The DfE has decided to act to ensure the education of pupils does not suffer further.

“Nishkam School Trust [NST] has been running state-funded Free schools since September 2011. Three of the four schools that NST established have been judged as ‘Outstanding’ in all categories by Ofsted Inspectors.

“NST’s track record in pupil achievement is very strong, for example GCSE results both last year and this year are within the top 10 per cent of the UK.

“All Nishkam Schools are formally designated as Sikh Faith schools with the DfE and serve vegetarian food only.

“We aim for pupils to be strong in understanding their faith, compassionate and forgiving towards all of humanity, as well as academically very strong to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

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