School in east London 'drops' Ramadan policy that forced parents to take fasting children off premises at lunchtime

Newport Primary School in Leyton said health guidelines meant it could not look after fasting Muslim children

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The Independent Online

A school in east London has been forced to abandon its policy of making fasting Muslim children leave at lunchtime after it received repeated complaints from parents, it has been reported.

Pupils who wanted to take part in the fast for the holy month of Ramadan were told that Newport Primary School in Leyton was “unable to make provisions” to accommodate them.

The school had claimed that fasting pupils must rest for an extended period at lunchtime for health and safety reasons, according to a report from the BBC’s Asian Network.

It wrote to parents on the 18 June to inform them that as a result any fasting children “must be picked up by an adult” in the middle of the day.

Nusrat Riddiqui, a parent at the school, told the BBC that her 10-year-old daughter had wanted to fast but that she couldn’t pick her up because of work commitments.

She said the policy had “ruined her Ramadan”, and that the school had “clearly done it because of the wrong reasons”.

Eleven days into Ramadan the parents receive a second letter saying that because of complaints the Ramadan policy would be dropped.

Prue Barnes, the head at Newport, wrote: “Although the volume of communication has been from significantly few parents it is now interfering with the daily management of the school and detracting from our focus, which is the education of all children at Newport.”

The school declined to comment on the policy when approached today, but Waltham Forest Council said the school had received advice on the matter from Public Health England.

Councillor Mark Rusling told the BBC: “The school concerned serves a large Muslim community, the majority of whom have supported this policy.”