The Lion Academy Trust banned its primary school students from fasting during Ramadan after a meeting with their parents. The trust, which is comprised of four primary schools, had not yet received permission from the acting headmaster before creating this rule.
The decision came when Barclay Primary School in Leyton sent a letter to parents on June 10 informing them that their children will not be allowed to fast on school grounds because doing so would compromise their health.
"Previously, we have had a number of children who became ill and children who fainted or who have been unable to fully access the school curriculum in their attempt to fast," the letter justified.
The letter added that the school had “sought guidance” before enforcing the ban and is thus “reliably informed that in Islamic Law, children are not required to fast during Ramadan.”
The decision received criticism from many members of the Muslim community in the United Kingdom. It also came under fire on social media and received international media attention.
Imam and spokesman for the Islamic Society of Britain Ajmal Masroor called the action “stupidly foolish,” according to the BBC .
He added that "it could have been easily resolved by just speaking to parents. Now we have another negative story against the Muslim community – as if we don't have enough already."
“Schools should play a supporting role to parents; and issues like this should be discussed, not blanket enforced,” president of the Muslim Association of Britain Dr. Omer El-Hamdoon told Mail Online .
“We believe that there are sufficient and stringent rules within Islam which allow those who are unable to fast, to break fast. These rules include those who are medically ill or compromised; or too young or too old to fast,” a spokesperson from the MAB added.
“We believe that the school should have adopted an advisory role, in that they recommend to the parents their point of view, and not act in an authoritarian manner,” Hamdoon told TIME .
Chief Executive Director of the primary school trust Justin James responded to the criticism in a statement published online by saying: “We have written to all parents to outline how we are trying to balance both our obligations under child safety and protection and working closely with our communities who we serve.”
In addition, he further clarified in the statement that a student will be able to fast after gaining permission from the school administration and a meeting with the student’s parents.