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

51 minutes ago

Wapping’s men and women celebrated hard-fought wins in their latest East League outings at the weekend.

A chance to win a perfect book for West Ham fans just in time for Christmas

Football League

The big Hammers striker played 45 minutes in a friendly at Brentford and is looking for a place on the bench for Saturday

Andy Carroll
11:00

Leyton Orient captain Jobi McAnuff has heaped praise on forward duo Macaulay Bonne and Josh Koroma after the pair both netted in their 3-1 win against Bromley.

Josh Koroma

Staff on the Central line are set to walk out for 24 hours the weekend before Christmas.

A bid by Iceland to sell alcohol in its branch inside the Stratford Centre has been meet with concerns by the council and police.

Firefighters tackled a blaze that broke out at a block of maisonettes in the early hours of the morning.

Canning Town

A church in Forest Gate is doing its bit to help Newham’s homeless.

Forest Gate

PROMOTED CONTENT

Have you spent time as an unpaid carer? If you are over the age of 25 and living in Newham, the Working for Carers scheme can help you take the first steps back to employment.

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

Education Promo

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