London: The British government has approved applications for 15 new faith schools, including two Sikh and six Muslim schools.
UK education secretary Michael Gove cleared the applications as part of 102 new "free schools" which are to be opened from 2014 and beyond.
Free schools are state-funded schools, independent of local authority control and as part of the rules, faith schools under the category are able to select a maximum of 50 per cent of pupils on the basis of religion.
"Free schools are extremely popular with parents and are delivering strong discipline and teaching excellence across the country. There are many innovators in local communities set on raising standards of education for their children," said Gove today.
Fewer schools are approved this year with a faith designation or ethos, including Church of England schools ? 15 faith designated, compared with 20 last year, and 10 with a faith ethos, compared with 13 last year.
Seva School, based at Coventry in the West Midlands region of England, will be a co-educational Sikh designated faith school set up by the Sevak Educational Trust.
The second Sikh school `Falcons Primary School` is planned in Leicester, East Midlands, and will broadly follow the national curriculum with a focus on personalisation and a learning environment influenced by religious ethos.
The Muslim faith schools include a mix of boys and girls schools across London, Bolton, Slough and Birmingham.
Free schools in the UK are run by teachers rather than a local or central government authority and have the freedom to decide the length of the school day and term, the curriculum, and how they reward their teachers and spend their money.
Among the new schools there will be a Family school in London for children with complex psychological and mental-health problems. Two schools under the aegis of the National Autistic Society, in east Cheshire and Lambeth will also be there.
All groups involved will now finalise their plans to open from September 2014. Chief task will be to secure a site for the school and changes to the planning laws at the end of May 2013 will make it easier for free schools to move into their preferred site.
However, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) general secretary, Christine Blower, has warned that the free schools risked squandering resources.
The NUT`s analysis claims that the Department for Education (DfE) has already spent more than 200 million euros on free schools.
"It is time for the government to change tack and allow local authorities to open new schools in areas where there is a genuine need for new places," she said.