Report reveals Thurrock parents are “refusing to allow children to be taught about Islam”

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By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

SCHOOLCHILDREN are being withdrawn from lessons by their parents over objections to the teaching of Islam, a council report has revealed.

An investigation is expected into how many parents are refusing to allow their children to learn about Islam, as part of their normal religious education lessons, and how many are withdrawing from associated school trips – and why.

The details emerged in a report from the standing advisory council into religious education which is being presented to Thurrock Council.

The report warns about “integration issUes” and concludes an investigation should be launched into the “nature and extent” of the withdrawals.

It states: “Parents have objected to the teaching of Islam and withdrawn children from lessons and visits to places of worship. The outcome for those children, who arguably are those that most need to be taught about Islam, are no longer being taught about it.

“It is not clear whether or not this is a widespread issue in Thurrock, but it is clear that the Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education needs to investigate. Schools have a statutory duty to promote community cohesion.”

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “In ever increasingly diverse society, it is more crucial than ever to learn about each other’s faith and cultures, and help foster better understanding between communities.

“In particular, as hostility towards Muslim communities remains widespread and more young people are brought up with inaccurate views about Muslims, we believe visits to mosques are an important way to help resolve misunderstandings.”

Learning about other religions is a vital part of the subject, according to school guidance published by central government. A framework from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government says the lessons in other faiths help to address “the prejudices brought about by a shallow knowledge of world religions”.

The report adds that there is also a continuing effort to tackle hate crimes for which the highest number of offences have been against Muslim victims.

The investigation, as well as a number of other issues linked to changes within the community will be discussed at a meeting on Wednesday.

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