HUNDREDS of non-Muslim pupils are having a three-day holiday this week because their school has closed for the religious festival Eid-ul-Adha.
Only about half the children at 1,050-strong Witton Park High in Blackburn, Lancs, celebrate the second most important festival in the Muslim year.
But headteacher Dean Logan worked the calendar at the non-faith school to give all youngsters and staff the break, angering some parents.
One, who asked not to be named, said: “I find it remarkable they are to close the school when not everyone celebrates Eid. It isn’t a national holiday and has nothing to do with the faith of the school. There is no reason for non-Muslim children to take three days off at this time.”
The exact timing of Eid-ul-Adha, meaning Festival of Sacrifice, depends on sightings of the moon.
This year it could have fallen on one of three separate days – yesterday, today or tomorrow.
The local Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council said headteachers can allow authorised absences for religious holidays. Instead, the school decided to accommodate the extra holiday by starting back three days early in September.
Mr Logan said: “We have a choice of authorising time off school for religious observance, which results in students losing valuable time, or we can arrange our school year in a better way.
“By arranging our calendar like this, attendance at school is not lost, ensuring students are given the best possible opportunities to reach their goals.
“Attendance is 97 per cent for this term, which is significantly above national figures.” Witton Park is a community high school but has applied for academy status. It is expected to become the first school to be sponsored by the TSA, an organisation linked to the Muslim charity, the Tauheedul Trust.
But TSA claims its academies are “open to young people and families of all faiths, of little faith and of no faith”.
Councillor Dave Harling, from Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “This decision is ultimately the responsibility of the school and its leadership.”
Eid-ul-Adha remembers the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when ordered to by God.
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