BRITAIN'S first Hindu state school opened its doors to the press for the first time on Friday.
The Krishna Avanti Primary School, in Camrose Avenue, Edgware, was set up to serve the Hindu community in the area, which is the largest in the country.
It has been funded and will be run by the I-Foundation, part of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), which runs Bhaktivedanta Manor, in Aldenham.
The school includes a temple built from hand-carved Indian marble.
Before the school opened in September, Hinduism was the only major religion without a faith school in the country.
Environmental initiatives include re-using rainwater, using water-pumps to warm water for under-floor heating and management systems that control the temperature of the rooms.
Nitesh Gor, the chairman of governors and director of the I-Foundation, which helped raise an additional £2m on top of the Government grant of £11.1m to build the school, said being environmentally sustainable is important to Hindus.
He said: “Environmental responsibility is one of the key aspects of the school. The children have planted flower, fruit and vegetable gardens.
“The whole process of growing food and cooking it is important. The children are responsible for patches outside their own classrooms. Our school cook is also the school priest.”
Headteacher Naina Parmer said: “It's a real privilege to start a school and we're building for the future.
“We're not an exclusivist ghetto. As a faith school, one of the key things is we're an inclusive faith. The children learn about other religions and RE lessons have a 50/50 split.
“We look at the emotional as well as the intellectual and spiritual development. We play classical music in the communal areas as it is calming and it also embraces the fact we are British.”
The school opened on a temporary site at Little Stanmore Primary School in September 2008, in preparation to move into the new buildings which were completed in the summer.
Ms Parmer added: “We teach the national curriculum here and last year all of our children made Government targets.
“It's not an island on its own — we're part of the Harrow family of schools with strong links to local headteachers and schools.”