Search

Newham councillors oppose hijab ban at primary school in East Ham

PUBLISHED: 14:48 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:55 24 January 2018

St Stephen's in East Ham. Picture: Google

St Stephen's in East Ham. Picture: Google

Google

A group of Newham councillors have penned a letter slamming St Stephen’s Primary School’s policies on the hijab and fasting, saying it sets a “dangerous precedent” for a crackdown on religious freedoms in education.

The group call on the school to reverse their ban on pupils under the age of eight wearing a hijab and stop discouraging fasting on school days.

They say there has been a “toxic atmosphere” between parents and the school since headteacher Neena Lall was featured in last weekend’s Sunday Times talking about the policies, which she argues will better integrate pupils into British society.

The letter, titled “we must trust parents,” has been jointly signed by Cllrs Mas Patel, Salim Patel, Idris Ibrahim, Firoza Nekiwala, Zuber Gulamussen, Winston Vaughan, Susan Masters, Jose Alexander, Mukesh Patel and Harvinder Singh Virdee.

“Whilst the Council has little or no power to directly intervene we feel it is important that we, as local representatives, speak out and ensure that a resolution is quickly found,” the letter said.

“Freedom to practice one’s faith is one of the fundamental freedoms that we cherish in Britain.

“Parents must be trusted to bring up their child in the best possible manner to be full and active members of society and they should have the freedom to decide for themselves how to dress or bring up their child in their particular faith.”

The school should not “unilaterally intervene in matters of faith” without consulting with parents, they say, noting that “over zealous” schools could also move to ban turbans, kippahs and other religious clothing.

“When schools focus solely on education they produce outstanding results as in the case at St. Stephens itself, which was recently awarded by The Times as the best primary School in the country,” they add.

A petition against the school’s decision has received almost 19,000 signatures in five days.

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK also condemned the school’s decisions.

Spokesman Imran Shah said: “Even without the hijab ban and without stopping kids from fasting in Ramadan, St Stephen’s topped the schools league.

“Clearly they aren’t hindering kids from achieving.”

The school has turned down the Recorder’s requests for an interview with Ms Lall.

Latest Newham Stories

The 32-year-old offered an honest assessment on Saturday’s clash between O’s and Boreham Wood

Charlie Lee

It’s not just A-level students who are set to start a degree course in September - participants on the University of East London’s new beginnings course are ready to do so as well.

University of East London

Justin Edinburgh praised Craig Clay after the victory over Boreham Wood and provided an update on James Brophy

Jobi McAnuff
11:00

Despite an outlay of £100m in the summer, the Hammers turned in a display that would not have been out of place during the last disastrous campaign

Pupils across Newham are celebrating a record year of A-level results.

09:00

Sporting Bengal United were held for a point in an eight goal thriller against new boys Saffron Walden at Catons Lane this weekend.

13:26

A man has been charged with assault following an alleged attack on two police officers in Manor Park.

Snaresbrook Crown Court

A 16-year-old boy has been charged with stabbing a man in his 20s in Upton Park.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Hanson Fernandes’ journey began in 2015 when he arrived in London from Goa, India.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newham Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now