Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Mother's anger over 'water refusal'

A woman claims her 10-year-old son was told not to drink water because the teacher feared it might upset other pupils fasting for Ramadan

A mother has spoken of her anger after her 10-year-old boy was told not to drink water during one of the hottest days of the year because the teacher feared it might upset other pupils fasting for Ramadan.

Kora Blagden, 32, said her son Luke returned home from Charles Dickens Primary School in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on Thursday complaining he was dehydrated after not drinking water throughout the day.

She said he told her he had asked to drink from his water bottle but the teacher had asked him to consider Muslim pupils who were observing Ramadan, particularly one child who had a headache.

Mrs Blagden said that the teacher had told Luke that if he was to drink in front of them, it would be tantamount to "teasing".

She added that the water bottles were not kept on the table as usual but were being stored in a tray to keep them out of the sight of the fasting children.

Mrs Blagden, a mother of four, said: "We were talking last night before bed about Ramadan and my son Luke came out that he wasn't allowed to drink at school. I said, 'Hang on, why aren't you allowed to drink at school?'

"He said his class teacher refused it because one of the kids was fasting, I think quite a few were fasting, but one in particular had a headache. They said it would be unfair if the other pupils were to drink in front of that child, Luke agreed and he took it that he couldn't drink water all day."

Mrs Blagden added: "I do not agree with it, by not allowing Luke to drink because it would be unfair on other children therefore makes it unfair on my child. I am not racist, I respect their religion if that is what they want to do, but do not force it on my child."

She said that she had spoken to the deputy headteacher Lisa Florence who said it should not have happened and Luke was later taken out of class and apologised to. During the lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset.

Headteacher Craig Duncan said: "We do everything that we can to ensure the welfare of all of our children and we would never prevent them from having access to water. In this case, water was available and pupils were just reminded to be respectful to their classmates who were unable to drink in this hot weather."

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