WORRIED parents have banned their children from visiting a mosque amid concerns over their safety.
The school said some parents were also concerned about the teaching of Islam as part of the religious education curriculum. It said the trip to the mosque and Exeter Cathedral was an opportunity to learn about different faiths.
One parent, who didn’t wish to be named, said: ” We have grave concerns about the children’s safety during the trip due to the horrific events that occur every day.
“We have therefore decided not to send our children on this trip. This decision is not one based on ignorance or racial or religious beliefs, but one based purely on safety concerns.”
The school wants to take 91 children from Years 3 to 6 to Exeter on May 7 as part of their religious education.
Head teacher Carolyn Huxley said: “Our hope from the visit to the mosque is that children will be given a view as to what are the values and beliefs of a ‘British Muslim’. This trip will show the children the views of extremists are not a true reflection of Islam as a religion.”
Following the visit to the cathedral the children will tour the mosque where they will observe a congregational prayer and be able to ask questions.
The school said the pupils would observe the appropriate dress code, taking off their shoes before they entered the mosque and wearing trousers and long sleeves.
Kat Smith, the chairman of governors, said: “This is the first time pupils from the school have visited a mosque and it’s an exciting opportunity for them to learn about different faiths and ensure that they’re aware of the diverse nature of modern Britain.
“Because of recent news reports about extremist groups, such as ISIS, that identify themselves with Islam, a small number of parents have expressed concerns about the trip and the teaching of Islam in school.
“In response, the school held a special assembly with children to discuss these issues, and the head teacher has met and sent letters to parents with specific concerns.”
However, the unnamed parent criticised the way the assembly was conducted and claimed that children who were not going were “singled out” by asking the children who were going to stand up after assembly.
“The sitting non-attendees were then asked individually why they were not going on the trip,” said the parent.
“This is not a decision the children have made, so discriminating against these children in this fashion is disgraceful, unacceptable and unprofessional.”
The school said it had arranged for parents to meet David Hampshire, who has been the Cornwall county advisor for RE for the past 18 years and who produced the agreed syllabus.