Catholic church support Muslim state school bid

Al Qalam primary school.
Al Qalam primary school.

The Catholic Church has provided its support in a bid by local primary school, Al-Qalam to move into state-funded secondary education.

The backing came after the private primary on Nithsdale Road launched a bid to become the country’s first state-funded autonomous Muslim school.

Al-Qalam Primary School is the first independent school delivering Scottish Curriculum for Excellence alongside Islamic education.

The school has submitted a proposal to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to expand into secondary education with the help of public funding.

Under these plans the 60-pupil school would be funded by the state, but run by an independent board of governors outside council control.

The Scottish Government already funds Catholic schools across the country as well as the Calderwood Lodge Jewish School in Newlands which is run by East Ren Council.

Michael McGrath, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service, said there could be no objection to the principle of other faith schools. “Of course we would expect these schools to be managed and governed in the same way as Catholic schools are, as well as being regulated in the same ways” he said.

The submission has already provoked a debate whether more denominational schools should be allowed - and whether they should be autonomous rather than run by councils.

Nabeel Shaikh, general secretary of the Glasgow Central Mosque, said there was an increasing desire for a school which was faith-based yet taught the curriculum.

He said: “Lots of questions are raised over why there isn’t any state-funded Muslim school.

“I live in East Renfrewshire which has great Catholic schools and where a new £13 million joint campus for Jewish and Catholic pupils.”