Parents roast school over halal meat

Lynnfield Primary School. Pictured below, parents Stephen Lister and Rajab Malik
Lynnfield Primary School. Pictured below, parents Stephen Lister and Rajab Malik

A TOWN primary school sparked outrage after announcing plans to serve halal meat in meals to all pupils.

But within hours it made a dramatic u-turn and sent a text message to parents telling them the decision had been reversed.

Lynnfield Primary School sent a letter to parents on Tuesday afternoon which revealed all chicken, beef and lamb dishes served in school would be prepared with halal meat after the half-term.

But just hours later at 8am yesterday, after complaints from fuming parents, the school sent out a text message revealing the changes would not go ahead as planned.

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Relieved parent Stephen Lister, 33, described the proposed changes to the menus as “disgusting” and threatened to take his child out of the school if only halal meat was served to children.

But Rajab Malik, 45, who has one child at the school and three children who have now left Lynnfield, said: “The halal meat would have been ideal for all of the Muslim children and there is no problem for the wider community to eat halal meat.”

Forty of the 350 pupils at Lynnfield Primary School, in Grosvenor Street, in the town are of different ethnicity.

Muslim children at the school can only eat halal meat, which is killed by hand and must be blessed by the person doing the job in the name of Allah.

Marian Fairley, headteacher at the school, said the change was originally made with the aim of catering for pupils with dietary requirements based on their ethnicity.

Rajab, who is chairman of the Salaam Centre, in Murray Street, used to have to take his three older children home at lunchtime when they were at Lynnfield Primary and prepare meals for them himself.

He described the school’s u-turn as “a blow”, saying: “Quite a lot of children at the school are Muslim and I think food should be prepared halal for them.”

Rajab, who lives in Grange Road, in the town, said he now plans to discuss the issue further with the school.

But Stephen said he is “delighted” the school reversed the original decision.

The unemployed dad, who lives in Jesmond Road with his partner, Lynn Guest, 28, and who has two children at the school and another two-year-old, said: “What upset me was the fact it felt like it was forced on us, we didn’t have a say.

“I felt they were going out of their way to cater for the Muslim children.

“It felt wrong and I was pleased and relieved to get the text saying they weren’t going through with it.”

Mrs Fairley said: “Our proposed change to using halal meat in our school meals was based on the best of intentions, with the aim of catering for all our pupils including those with dietary requirements based on their ethnicity.

“However, we realise now that we should have consulted with parents beforehand and we apologise for not doing so.

“As a result of concerns which have been raised by some parents, we have now decided not to proceed with the change to halal meat and I will be writing to all parents to inform them of this.”

The school confirmed it had not yet made any arrangements to buy halal meat or specialist equipment.