8th May 2018
Re: Ramadan 15th May to 14th June 2018
For some members of our community, they will shortly be following the religious observance of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and lasts between 29-30 days. It is a period of prayer, self-control, charity-giving and goodwill to others. Part of Ramadan is fasting which is one of the Five Pillars (fundamental religious duties) of Islam.
We are aware that this can make it difficult for school students who are fasting, particularly as Ramadan, this year, falls in the examination period of May and June and at the time of year when we have longest daylight hours.
Over the last couple of years, concerns have been raised across the educational and religious communities about fasting during Ramadan, examination performance and the potential impact on young people in terms of their futures. For Muslim students and parents this may well lead to difficult decisions as they come to terms with balancing their obligations of pursuing education as a religious and moral duty with fasting.
We are aware within our own local community of the wide range and diversity of opinions on how to observe Ramadan and this range and diversity is reflected nationally. Whilst the period of fasting provides possible benefits such as feeling closer to God and establishing a healthier life style and better habits, there can be less desirable consequences for some people. These may include tiredness, low energy, dehydration, reduced focus, memory and concentration issues. It is worth noting that these do not only pertain to Muslim students but to all students where the balances are out of kilter.
From Ninestiles’s perspective, we welcome the work and advice of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) in conjunction with a number of Imams, Islamic scholars, experts and Muslim chaplains working with the educational sector, published in March 2018. Following that very helpful advice I have listed below some of the comments and advice which we, as Ninestiles, would request parents and students consider in their approach to managing the demands of external examinations and our curriculum with those of observing Ramadan. Where appropriate, the comments/advice are quoted directly.
Ninestiles, An Academy has always been an inclusive school, embracing all aspects of the diversity of the community it serves. Our whole ethos revolves around our school values including respect and our ultimate aim is “Raising the Achievement of All”. We want all of our students to achieve the best they possibly can in all aspects of their work and this includes external examinations.
For other students they will face internal tests and exams and there is the pressure of their normal, everyday curriculum. All students need to take part in every aspect of the curriculum just as they would normally do. This is the provision of Ninestiles. This includes subjects such as PE, however, the PE department do make the necessary allowances if a child is struggling and appears ill. In all other circumstances PE lessons occur as normal in full PE kit although the activities may be less strenuous.
We hope parents will consider the points raised in this letter and continue to work in partnership with the School as we support our young people through this challenging time for what we all hope will be very successful outcomes for all of our students across the School at whatever level.
Mrs J McGillicuddy