Parents stunned after children return from school with letter saying they have converted to Islam as part of lesson

February 22, 2016 | by | 0 Comments

A school has sparked controversy by asking pupils to write to their parents stating they had converted to Islam – and explaining how it changed their life for the better.

The converting to Islam homework set for pupils at Les Beaucamps High School Castel, Guernsey (Adrian Miller / SWNS Group)

The converting to Islam homework set for pupils at Les Beaucamps High School Castel, Guernsey (Adrian Miller / SWNS Group)

The 12 and 13 year-olds were asked to consider what it would be like to become a Muslim as part of a Religious Education lesson.

They were tasked with penning a letter explaining their decision to their parents – and how they hoped their family would accept the decision.

The homework exercise was set at Les Beauchamps High School in Guernsey – where Muslims number less than one per cent of the island’s population.

It came with the clarification: “Please also note this is a piece of creative writing and completely fictional YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY CONVERTING TO ISLAM.”

But some said it was ‘dangerous’ at a time when easily-led youngsters across Britain are being radicalised.

One posting as milly, snr wrote on the local Guernsey Press website: “Teach pupils about religion by all means but be very careful when you ask them to be a Muslim.

“In this day and age when easily led youngsters are being radicalised it is a dangerous road to be taking.

“The idiot who thought this one up is not fit to be at the school or in education.

“The amount of youngsters heading to Syria without their parents knowing must ring warning bells about how easily led they can be.”

Another critic called John West wrote: “I think it’s good for children to be taught about other religions but this letter was bound to cause controversy due to the nature of talking about conversion, particularly in light of young people being radicalised in the West.

“It’s a very emotive topic and really not a particularly clever move by the school/education.”

 

Les Beaucamps High School Castel, Guernsey (Adrian Miller / SWNS Group)

Les Beaucamps High School Castel, Guernsey (Adrian Miller / SWNS Group)

However, others said the negative response to the homework at the state-run secondary, set by teacher Amber Stables, was an overreaction.

‘Vivica’ wrote: “Does this really matter? It’s a thought experiment… If you’re worried about your kid being influenced by it maybe you just need to do a better job as a parent!”

The full clarification with the homework read: “Please also note this is a piece of creative writing and completely fictional YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY CONVERTING TO ISLAM.

“It is purely to test your knowledge of what we have learnt this year and how well you can argue objectively!”

The controversial homework was set as Guernsey announced it would not be accepting Syrian refugees on the island.

Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq (corr) sparked a row when he claimed ‘negativity’ on the island would make it difficult to guarantee the safety of any migrants.

He claimed there was a danger that some residents might be unwelcoming – despite most people showing compassion.

He told the BBC: ‘There’s certainly a lot of Islamophobia and negativity that’s been around and that would entail that it would be difficult for us to ensure that [the refugees] would find the sorts of security and stability here in Guernsey, were they to be resettled here, in the same way as they are, say, in other parts of the UK.’

Aid workers branded his comments ‘disgraceful’ and said Guernsey had an ‘amazing reputation’ for accepting ‘other people coming in from outside’.

The decision to set the homework was backed by the Guernsey Education department.

It said: “The Guernsey-agreed syllabus for religious education includes a structured framework for ensuring that Christianity and the other five principal religions (Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism) are studied with sufficient depth and breadth throughout the four Key Stages.

“It is important that our students are able to learn about, understand, investigate and question all that is around them.

“As with all subjects, homework will be set to cover all areas of the curriculum.”

They claimed that a parent who had initially complained was now happy with the situation after having the context explained to her.

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