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Meeting Muslim needs

Anne Corbett writes "though French headteachers want clear guidance, many, as in England, fear a stand which does not respect the multicultural nature of their schools" (TES, October 7).

It is precisely such clear guidance, on meeting the educational, religious, social, cultural and pastoral needs of Muslim pupils within the school system, that Amana, an Islamic Educational Trust, has, for the past three years, consistently approached the Department of Education to provide.

Currently, in schools and LEAs, individual Muslim families are obliged to negotiate afresh with every teacher, headteacher and governing body about how best to marry their children's religious and education needs with the demands of the national curriculum as well as collective worship, religious education and sex education.

Muslim parents and pupils depend on the goodwill of individuals and schools to ensure that their needs are met with regard to modest dress, suitable food and prayer .

Enormous variation can and does exist in the provision made for Muslim and other minority-faith pupils, not only between LEAs but between schools within the same LEA and even in their "interpretations" of LEA guidelines.

In the light of the Department for Education's seeming reluctance to grant voluntary-aided status to Muslim schools, such a circular would do much to reassure Muslim and other minority-faith communities, that their needs are indeed being fully met within the mainstream school system.



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