On the 5th of November British Muslims for Secular Democracy launched our Advice for Schools booklet in the House of Commons.
MP Rupa Huq graciously hosted our event, chaired the panel discussion and the lively audience Q&A. Guest speakers included Reverend Stephen Terry of the Accord Coalition, Dr. Ruth Wareham of Humanists UK and Neena Lall, the head teacher of the highest achieving primary school in the UK.
Among the issues discussed were the dangers political and religious extremism and the rise of far right governments in countries such as America, Brazil, Sweden, Hungary, etc. This has lead to the normalisation and resurrection of racism, sexism, homophobia and religious intolerance. The best way to counter these bigotries is through an inclusive and open education which the advice for schools booklet supports.
“The Advice for Schools booklet is a very useful contribution to a vital topic. It is a dissemination of information about a very important community that exists within our Island. It will be of help not only to those like me that need to know about the way of Islam and how it translates into the education of children, it will also help a lot of practicing Muslim parents about the society they are living in. To that extend, the document is entirely to be commended. It is very readable, not overwhelmed with jargon, a very practical guide for those who want to get the best out of the education system for their children.” – Reverend Stephen Terry
Concern was also raised about the fact that religious education is a statutory subject but receives little support or training for teachers. For this reason the Advice for Schools document was felt to be vitally important.
“In my view, Advice for Schools manages to successfully balance the need to cover a comprehensive range of useful information with the requirement to provide accessible, jargon-free advice to a range of audiences. The advice it offers is nuanced and context sensitive; warning against treating Muslim people as a homogenous group or essentialising the beliefs and practices of the Islamic faith. It seeks to support and — where necessary to ensure the rights and interests of children and young people are protected — challenge parents and schools to be reflective and self-critical in their approach to managing the relationship between a pupil’s faith and her education.” – Dr. Ruth Wareham
Speakers also discussed the best way to raise educational standards through inclusivity, empowerment and integration.
The event then moved onto an energetic and engaging audience Q&A. There were full and fruitful discussions about state funded faith schools, uniforms, the political appetite for secularism and religious education.
We extend thanks to all supporters, panellists and MP Rupa Huq for contributing to this successful event and choosing to share their evening with BMSDemocracy.
We encourage everyone to read our Advice for Schools booklet that has been revised for modern day challenges affecting schools and Muslim children. Topics such as: LGBT+ Muslims, the arts, forced marriage, diet, FGM, Ramadan, Friday prayers and meditation are addressed to assist schools and teachers in appropriately navigate these challenges.
The BMSDemocracy Team