A father has refused to allow his 12-year-old daughter to do a school homework assignment – said to be “in line with the National Curriculum” – asking her to write a letter to her family telling them she has converted to Islam.
Mark McLachlan, 42, from the North East of England, said he did not mind his stepdaughter learning about other faiths, but argued the project was “inappropriate” as it was a parent’s choice what values they raise their child with.
The stepfather found the assignment in his daughter’s school planner and posted an image of it online, stating that he was “furious” and would be visiting the Kepier school in Houghton-le-Spring to discuss the matter.
“Write a letter to family about converting to Islam,” read the girl’s Religious Education (RE) homework task for Wednesday the 8th of November, according to the image on social media.
When he visited the school, Mr. McLachlan was told that projects such as the letter are part of the National Curriculum. There was a very similar case in Guernsey reported last year after it stirred controversy.
UKIP’s Education Spokesman David Kurten, a member the London Assembly, told Breitbart London that there was nothing illegal about the assignment, but said it was “wrong”, in his view, to “compel school pupils to imagine submitting to Islam”.
He said: “It is important for children to have an opportunity to learn the facts about different religions if they want to, but forcing school children to write a letter of conversion to any faith against their will is wrong, particularly if it is under the threat of punishment for non-compliance.
“Taking up any faith is a profound emotional and spiritual experience and cannot be replicated by putting it into an enforced piece of trivial homework.
“Moreover, many schoolgirls up and down the country are terrified of grooming and raping gangs, often composed of men from a Pakistani Muslim background. Despite several prosecutions, it still goes on.
“While there continues to be victims of this brutal crime, it is both crass and grossly insensitive to try to compel school pupils to imagine submitting to Islam.”
Speaking to the Metro, Mr. McLachlan explained his opposition to the assignment: “I know as part of the national curriculum they have to learn about all religions.
“I just don’t see why they should ask a child to write a letter addressed to their family about converting to another religion. I really just don’t see what the letter will gain.
“If they want children to learn about Islam, then go teach them all about it and its history. What I don’t want is a school asking my stepdaughter to look into reasons for converting to another religion.
“Like every parent, it is our decision on how we raise them and once they are old enough to make the decision, then it is their choice.”
He added: “When I saw this assignment in the planner, written by the teacher, you could have knocked me over with a feather.
“I told her she will not be completing it and she is more worried about getting detention. We send our kids to school to get a good education and use what they have learnt to have a good career.
“I have no problem with them learning about religions but I feel they should not be asking 12-year-olds writing to their parents about why they are converting. I just found the task wholly inappropriate.
“I would like to emphasise how much respect I have for the head of year and deputy head who were very receptive to my complaint and concerns but unfortunately in this instance, the national curriculum has failed miserably in my opinion.”
Nicola Cooper, the Head Teacher of Kepier school, said: “At Kepier we feel it is very important to introduce our learners to all faiths and cultures and we do this throughout the academic year.
“For example, next week we will be celebrating all faiths during National Inter Faith Week. We welcomed Mr. McLachlan into school earlier this week and were happy to explain to him how we explore all faiths and cultures.
“Our Culture and Wellbeing programme of study is in line with the National Curriculum and we believe it provides the basis for a broad, balanced and engaging introduction to the areas typically taught in RE and PSHCE.”