Religious council wants more respect for Muslims

Schools should do more to accommodate Muslim pupils by avoiding exams during Ramadan, providing prayer rooms and respecting the religion's opposition to homosexuality, says a report by the Muslim Council of Britain.

Its recommends swimming lessons be single sex and dance lessons should not include performances in front of mixed-gender groups. "As dancing is not a normal activity for most Muslim families, Muslim pupils are likely to exhibit reluctance to taking part in it," the 72-page report says.

It says all kitchen staff should be trained to prepare halal meals.

Female pupils should be allowed to wear a headscarf and full-length loose skirt, and children should not be told to remove religious amulets.

Schools should provide some individual changing cubicles to preserve Muslim pupils' modesty, and they should not take part in communal showering after PE, the report says.

Sex education for Muslim pupils should include "Islamic moral perspectives," it says, explaining: "Girlfriend boyfriend as well as homosexual relationships are not acceptable practices according to Islamic teachings."

Headteachers said meeting all the recommendations would prove difficult.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Schools are trying to create societies within their walls which are tolerant and celebratory. I just worry that the list of demands - if that is what it is - may be too much and will simply create a backlash."

* 'Towards Greater Understanding - meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools',

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