UK: Special guidelines for Muslim students

The SACRE guidelines are quite an interesting read. I find it amazing that SACRE decides what is and isn't permissible for Muslim students.

A British government advisory body has issued a set of recommendations for schools in the western London borough of Ealing on dealing with Muslim students for "success through diversity," The Daily Mail reported on Sunday, June 24.

"The guidance suggests that the pools allow these burkinis," said Nora Leonard, one of the authors of guidelines issued by the Ealing council's Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE).

"I have spoken to the firm which runs our pools and they are all in favor of it."

The Guidance for Schools with Muslim Pupils asked schools to let Muslim girls wear the head-to-toe burkinis in swimming lessons.

The governmental advisory body cited complaints by an increasing number of Muslims that the conventional swimming costumes violate their Islamic beliefs.

"Swimming facilities in the borough do not allow girls to wear full leotards and leggings in the pool for health and safety reasons," said the guideline.

Authors said adopting the burkini would stop Muslim girls from trying to cover their bodies with other unsuitable clothing.

"Schools are being encouraged to allow burkinis because of that," Leonard said.

Councilors have already encouraged local pools in the borough to stock the £29 Lycra "burkini". The "burkini", a two-piece swimsuit incorporating a head covering, a loose-fitting chemise and leggings, was designed in Australia to allow Muslims to go swimming. The head-to-ankle costume is made from ultraviolet- and water-protected polyester. The word is derived from the words burqa (a head-to-ankle dress) and bikini.

Religious Diversity

The guidelines set recommendations for schools to respect Muslim students.
The 24-page SACRE document said that Islamic moral perspective should be taken into account in Ealing schools where 25 percent of the pupils are Muslims.

For example, "whenever possible it is preferable for male staff to teach boys, female staff for girls."

The guidelines also affirmed that it is "good practice" to reassure parents that their children would not be asked to join activities that contradict their religion.

"…it could be a problem after puberty if forms of dance such as ballet, jazz, tango and disco are performed in mixed groups," said the document.

It also urged schools to meet the religious needs of Muslim students with respect to prayer.

"Schools are encouraged to have a designated 'quiet' area for prayer (e.g. space in the library).

"If it is not possible to allow students to perform the prayers at the allotted times, it is suggested that schools allow them to do so at the beginning or the end of the lunch break."

School uniform policies should allow girls to wear hijab and full-length loose skirt, said the advisory body.

The umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has recently published a document of guidelines on meeting the needs of Muslim pupils attending state schools in the UK.

The 72-page guidelines said that British schools are ignoring the sensitivities of Muslim pupils with regard to religious assemblies, sex education and changing rooms.

There are 400,000 Muslim students in Britain, home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2 million.

Source: Islam Online (English), h/t Nieuw Religieus Peil

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