School makes U-turn on fasting pupils policy

Posted: 28th March 2024

Source: School finds solution for fasting pupils after criticism – BBC News

A primary school criticised for asking fasting pupils to spend their lunch break at home has made a U-turn on its policy.

The Beeches Primary School in Peterborough said that about 30 Muslim children in years 5 and 6 were observing the Ramadan fasts, during which they refrain from eating between dawn and dusk.

Parents had been told last week by management staff that children had to spend the 45-minute break away from the school due to a “staff shortage”.

Headteacher Will Fisk said he had listened to parents’ concerns and a room had been set up at the school to accommodate fasting pupils for rest and reflection.

Mum-of-three Kiran Chhapra, who has a son in year 6, said the policy had been “impractical, insensitive and inconvenient” for working parents.

Parents claimed they were asked to collect and return their children to school rather than letting them walk home.

Another mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said the situation was “ridiculous”.

‘Open dialogue’

Letters were sent out to families offering them to get in touch if their child was fasting.

In a statement, Mr Fisk said: “We greatly value open dialogue with parents and always listen to any concerns raised in order to find solutions.

“Measures have swiftly been put in place to accommodate children who are fasting at school with a supervised reflection room set up, which is available at lunchtime during the time their peers are eating.

“Children also have the option to get some fresh air outside.”

He said feedback from the children had been positive.

Mrs Chhapra said parents were appreciative of the school finding “a solution promptly”.

“My son can have a 15-minute break to just go outside the classroom and get fresh air or choose to sit inside and rest with a teacher,” she said.

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