Parents stop children from taking school trip to local mosque in England

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Some parents in England banned their children from a religious education school trip to a local mosque following ‘safety’ concerns.

Lostwithiel School in Cornwall had planned to take nearly 100 students to visit a mosque in Exeter, Devon as part of learning about different faiths.

However, fearing the safety of their children, Cornwall Council said ‘a small number of parents’ raised concerns regarding the security of their children.

Chairman of governors for the school, Kat Smith said a group of parents had expressed concerns about the trip due to recent terror attacks by groups such as Islamic State.

“Because of recent news reports about extremist groups, such as IS, that identify themselves with Islam, a small number of parents have expressed concerns about the trip and the teaching of Islam in school.”

One mother claimed she ‘doesn’t want to put her son at risk of being shot’ while some parents said their children would be exposed to ‘violence and guns’ and expressed ‘grave concerns’ about the teaching of Islam. Schoolchildren, from grades three to six, were due to visit the city’s cathedral before taking a tour of the mosque and observing a congregational prayer.

Sally Cox, 39, did not permit her son 10-year-old son, Jed Pearce, from going on the visit saying, “You can see what they are like every day on the news. There was a Muslim bomber in Exeter just a few years ago.”

“It is unsafe. I don’t want my son being shot,” she added.

The mother further said that the school in return has decided to take him of the religious education lesson.

“We have grave concerns about the children’s safety during the trip due to the horrific events that occur every day,” another parent said.

However, not all parents were opposed to the trip, with some backing the school and suggesting the visit is a positive move.

“I think we need to educate our children to be tolerant and dispel the rumours the media can congregate,” Alice Mitchell said.

“I am all for my children going on the trip. I think celebrating diversity is a great thing,” she added.

Responding to the parents’ concerns, the chairman said, “A full risk assessment has been conducted for the trip and there is no more risk attached to this trip than any other school trip.”

Smith added the school had a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to promote good relations between people of different beliefs and ethnicities.

“The governing body fully supports this trip and the teaching of Religious Education, including Islam.”

“It is the governors’ hope that the visit to the mosque will provide an insight for pupils into the nature of British Islam, help them understand how Islam is presented in the media and that groups like the Islamic State are not a true reflection of the Islam followed by the vast majority of Muslims in Britain,” Smith added.

The Muslim Council of Great Britain said it was concerned by the views of some of the parents who strongly opposed the trip.

“We would have thought a well-rounded education involves learning about those of a different faith,” a spokesperson said.

“These laudable initiatives take place across the country. It is therefore disappointing to hear that some parents have chosen to pull their children out of a visit to a mosque due to events elsewhere in the world.”

“We commend the headteacher for rightly stating that such a visit will help her pupils to understand real Islam and dispel the myths and hysteria that surrounds our religion,” added.