A school in Huntingdon, Staffordshire (UK) is facing a backlash from parents and guardians after sending a letter to them announcing that their children would be labeled racist if they did not go on a school trip.Discontent parents have blasted Littleton Green Community School, in Huntingdon, Staffordshire, after children as young as eight were told they would be punished for racism if they did not attend a religious workshop about Islam.
The parents were sent a letter by the school warning their children would be considered racist if they did not go on the visit to Staffordshire University. The visit had been arranged as part of the children's "cultural education" on November 27 and was for year 4 and 6 pupils.
In the letter to the parents, Littleton Green Community School's head teacher, Lynn Small, threatened to make a "racial discrimination note" on pupils who would not attend. The note would be made on the pupil's records and would remain there for their school careers. In addition to the threatened note, a cost of £5 was ordered from the parents for the trip. For that, the school has been accused of blackmailing by parents who lambasted it for its "ludicrous" threats too.
The mother of an 8 year old girl, Stacy Waldron, 26, thinks her daughter would be racist if she didn't go.
"I feel my child will be racist if I don't allow her to go," she said. "This is my choice, not hers, and she shouldn't have to pay for it."
Tracy Ward, a mum of four kids was at a loss for words after she received the letter.
"I was shocked by the letter. To be told my kids have got to attend this workshop is disgusting," she said. "Everyone should have a choice but that's my opinion and I don't want a stain on my kids' record as a result."
"They are not old enough to be called racist," she continued.
Donna, who has a daughter attending the same school too, shares the same thought as her sister Tracy.
"It's not our religion. We should have a right to stop our children going," she said.
Gillian Claridge, 55, another parent feels that the nature of religion should be a choice.
"To be told we had to pay for the trip as well was just a kick in the teeth," she said. "How dare they threaten to brand the children racist at such a young age? It's going to make them feel like little criminals."
"The very nature of religion is all about choice – on this occasion they were not being given any choice at all," she continued. "It was draconian move and it's left a lot of parents fuming."
According to The Telegraph, school officials were forced to make an embarrassing U-turn and withdraw the threat after council chiefs intervened following parents' contact to the school. A letter from the head to parents apologized for "inaccuracies" in the previous correspondence. In the letter Mrs. Small asked parents to "on reflection disregard a section from the earlier letter". The original move was slammed by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson labeling it "bonkers".
"The idea of attaching a âracial discrimination note' to children's education records saying it will remain on their file for the duration for their school career seems unfair, particularly when it is not the child's decision whether or not he or she attends," he said. "It seems a very heavy-handed approach."
Mrs. Small, in a move to defend their decision, said that exposing the pupils to other faiths was part of the school's statutory duty.
"We are a mainly Christian school, but we have to cover at least one other religion as part of the national curriculum. This visit is part of that," she said. "They would not be taking part in any religious practices. We have had similar workshops on a variety of religions in the past – including one on Islam with no problems at all and the children have absolutely loved it."
"We have pupils and teachers at the school who belong to the Islam faith and it is right for the children to understand and appreciate their faith as well as their own," she continued.