APPROVAL was given today for a new 800-place secondary free school for boys to open in Bradford.

The Muslim faith school, called Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, will be run by the Tauheedul Education Trust.

The school, to be built in a location still to be decided, will look to replicate the trust’s four existing schools, including Laisterdyke Leadership Academy in Bradford, which it will join in a trust hub.

It was one of 131 new free schools across the UK approved today by the Department for Education (DfE) to create more than 69,000 new school places, including more than 4,000 for pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy is one of seven new schools in Yorkshire and the Humber, which will create a total of 4,006 additional school places.

Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, welcomed the new school but expressed reservations that it will be boys only.

“Tauheedul Education Trust has an excellent track record of delivery and we welcome outstanding school leaders in the district. It is good to see the trust extending its commitment to Bradford,” she said.

“While I would have preferred a co-educational, rather than a single-sex school, the local authority is not directly involved in the approval of free schools which is the responsibility of the Department for Education.”

Cllr Simon Cooke, the Conservative group leader for Bradford, described the announcement as “great news”.

He said: “This is a reminder that the strategy of freeing up the development of education in new schools is a real success. It is a success in Bradford too.

“I hope that this will add to the successful free schools in Bradford and challenge the existing educational infrastructure.”

But Cllr David Ward, the Liberal Democrat group’s education spokesman, was fiercely critical.

“This is a complete step in the wrong direction that we as a society should be going,” he said.

“I don’t believe in segregating children by faith. What is the logic in this? I don’t understand it.

“How on earth does something like this help Bradford?”

A DfE spokesman said: “The school will provide 800 places and will follow the national curriculum, incorporating faith ethos, educational excellence and community service.”

A spokesman for Tauheedul Education Trust said it had plans to create more schools in Bradford. 

"We are proud to be delivering high-quality education already at a number of schools in Bradford and are delighted that we will be able to extend this offer to more children and young people in the city when Eden Boys' Leadership Academy opens," he said. 

"Our new academy is part of our wider plan to build a network of schools in Bradford that are committed to high academic standards and to developing character and leadership."